Hundreds of prospective candidates rushed to meet the filing deadline Tuesday to contest Bangladesh's national elections next month, as rival political factions engaged in sporadic street clashes.
Candidates or their representatives, escorted by bands of cheering supporters, marched to election offices around the country Tuesday, the last date to become a candidate for one of 300 parliamentary seats in the Jan. 22 polls.
The balloting had faced boycott threats from a major political alliance over demands for electoral reforms, including changes in the Election Commission and poll date.
But on Sunday, the 14-party alliance led by the Awami League decided to participate after the country's interim government met most of the group's demands following weeks of often-violent street protests. The Awami League's main rival, a four-party coalition led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, opposed the changes.
On Tuesday, police in the capital had to use tear gas to break up a street fight between supporters of rival candidates who came to file their nomination papers, the ATN Bangla television said.
The rival supporters hurled stones, blasted crude tin-pot bombs and set fire to vehicles when they came face to face near a local administrative office in downtown Dhaka. More than a dozen people were wounded in the clash, ATN Bangla said.
Meanwhile, 13 left-leaning parties in the Awami League agreed to stay in the alliance despite their earlier objection to a deal it forged with an Islamic party that wants to legalize religious edicts.
On Saturday, the Awami League signed a deal with Khelafat Majlish pledging to allow edicts by Islamic clerics and enact a blasphemy law, if voted to power. Muslim-majority Bangladesh is now governed by secular laws.
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia ended her five-year term on Oct. 28 and transferred power to a caretaker government to oversee fresh elections within the constitutionally stipulated 90 days.
Two months of repeated strikes and transport blockades staged by the alliance crippled the impoverished country's economy, and political violence left more than 30 dead and scores injured.