Campaigning has ended in Bangladesh ahead of Monday's national
election. The army-backed interim government lifted the state of
emergency to allow a two-week campaign period. At the forefront are two
rival former prime ministers. They have concluded their campaigns with
blistering attacks on the other.
The two women who took turns governing Bangladesh
during a chaotic 15-year period concluded their respective campaigns
with warnings of dire consequences should their rival return to power.
a huge rally in the capital, Dhaka, former prime minister Khaleda Zia
said, as a mother, she urges the people to vote for her Bangladesh
Zia promised the crowd, estimated at 100,000
people, a prosperous future for the impoverished nation. She also
mentioned her rival, Sheik Hasina, accusing her Awami League of
systematically pushing the country into chaos and ruin during its
Hasina finished her campaign with a rally in the port
city of Chittagong, promising a digital revolution for Bangladesh by
the year 2021.
A day earlier, at her own massive rally in Dhaka, Hasina expressed disdain for Zia's time in office.
says her opponent uses the slogan "save the country, save the people."
But her corrupt legacy was one of "kill the people, grab the money."
Security has been tight for the candidates amid concerns they have been targeted for assassination.
have been some physical attacks on local candidates, and police have
seized some explosives and arrested some alleged terrorists plotting to
disrupt the election. But overall, the level of reported violence has
been lower than past campaigns.
The two women, known as the
"Battling Begums" were freed from custody to contest the election. They
had been arrested on graft charges as part of the caretaker
government's bid to rid Bangladesh of its legacy of political
A third party leader, currently allied with the
Awami League, former military dictator Hussain Muhammed Ershad, saw his
motorcade attacked Saturday in the northern part of the country.
Ershad, leader of the Jatiya Party, could hold the balance of power if
neither of the top two parties wins a clear majority of parliamentary
seats. Ershad, ironically, was ousted from power when Hasina and Zia
joined to lead a popular revolt in 1990.
monitors on the ground here say, so far, the process for this election
seems credible. Officials of the interim government are expressing
confidence violence will not seriously disrupt balloting by the 81
million eligible voters.