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Bangladesh Leader Taps Himself for Post

In the years leading up to then, the country had seen two presidential assassinations, three military coups and 19 failed coups.

Despite Hasina's even-tempered response, analysts worried the president's decision would do little to quell the standoff.

Retired army Maj. Gen. Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, a Dhaka-based writer on political issues, condemned the move, and said "there is a strong possibility of deepening the crisis."

Bangladesh's opposition, which on Friday launched the protests that have left 27 people dead and hundreds injured, had demanded a nonpartisan interim leader and had earlier rejected Ahmed _ who was previously elected as a candidate of Zia's party _ as a possible choice to lead the caretaker government.

Opposition politicians, lead by Hasina's Awami League coalition, have accused Zia's government of trying to rig the elections, and while Zia attended the swearing-in ceremony at the president's office, Hasina did not.

The opposition had earlier rejected another choice as interim leader, retired Chief Justice K.M. Hasan, saying he was too close the government. Opposition to Hasan had sparked the riots, and on Saturday, he declined the post.

Hasan said the doubts about his impartiality had led to his decision.

Hasina said she would not call off the protests.

"We will continue with the protests to press for the electoral reforms," she said.

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© 2006 The Associated Press