In Bangladesh, local elections held in the country are being described
as an important first step in restoring democracy. As Anjana Pasricha
reports from New Delhi, these were the first elections in the country
since an army-backed government cancelled national elections and
imposed emergency rule last year.
A day after conducting a
largely peaceful vote in four cities, Election Commission officials
said the polls have sent a positive message that future elections in
the country will be free and fair.
Independent election observers from home and overseas have also praised the conduct of the elections.
elections were held to choose local representatives, and covered only a
fraction of Bangladesh's electorate. But they have been closely
watched, because they are seen as a test run for national elections
which the army-backed government has promised to hold in December to
The head of the independent National Election
Observation Council, Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, says the voting was "fair
and credible." He says there was no sign of rigging, fraud or violence
that has marred previous elections in the country.
to past elections in Bangladesh, the regularity of events yesterday was
promising for the anticipated December parliamentary elections, and it
inspires confidence in the electoral road map and the electoral
officials implementing it," he said.
The polls were conducted
using a new digital voter list prepared recently after eliminating
millions of fake names in the electoral rolls.
was high despite long delays in some places due to confusion over the
new identity system. Kalimullah of the National Election Observation
Council says the state of emergency did not deter voters.
found from the very start, long queues, and those who received their
national ID card [identity cards], proud owners of national ID cards
for the first time in their lives, ventured out from their homes, and
actually rushed to the polling stations," he said.
officials say candidates linked to the Awami League party have swept
the voting. The government had banned the direct involvement of
political parties, but most candidates were backed by national parties.
The political parties have been urging the interim government to lift
emergency to enable the restoration of democracy.
is due to hold another round of local polls by October. The Election
Commission is then expected to announce a schedule for national