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Bangladeshi general to head UN force in Western Sahara

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Major General Abdul Hafiz of Bangladesh as the Force Commander of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Maj.-Gen. Hafiz, currently commanding an infantry division of the Bangladeshi army, served two tours as a blue helmet with UN operations in Cote d'Ivoire, including one as a deputy force commander. He also served as a military liaison officer with the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) and as the chief military liaison officer in Zagreb, Croatia.

In April the Security Council today extended by one year the mandate of MINURSO, formally known as the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. Established in 1991, it is tasked with monitoring the ceasefire in Western Sahara and organizing a referendum on self-determination for the people of the territory.

The UN has been involved in efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.

Maj.-Gen. Hafiz will be in charge of some 220 blue helmets. He succeeds Maj.-Gen. Jingmin Zhao of China, whose tour of duty ended on 10 April.

Dhaka, International News: July 26 (IANS) Bangladesh's main opposition - the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) - will stage demonstrations across the country July 28 to protest the arrest warrant against the party's senior vice-chairman.

A Dhaka court issued the arrest warrant against Tarique Rahman in connection with a grenade attack in 2004, the Daily Star reported.

At least 24 Awami League workers were killed in the grenade attack at a party rally at Dhaka's Bangabandhu Avenue Aug 21, 2004.

The BNP's decision to stage demonstrations was taken after a party meeting Tuesday.