Police baton charge on Bangladesh Nationalist Party activities in Dhaka. — AFP

Two top leaders of Bangladesh’s main opposition party were arrested by police on early Friday, a day before a planned rally to call for the prime minister’s resignation.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party general secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Mirza Abbas, a former minister and member of the party’s top decision-making body, were taken from their homes at about 3am on Friday Zahiruddin Swapan, head of the BNP’s media wing, said.

Protests sparked by power cuts and fuel price hikes have erupted across the country in recent months, demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina step down in favour of fresh elections under a caretaker government.

Friday’s police action came two days after security forces in the capital Dhaka fired rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd of thousands of Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporters preparing for the December 10 rally, leaving at least one dead and scores wounded.

Western governments — along with the United Nations — have expressed concerns over the political climate in Bangladesh, one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.

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