News

    Bangladesh Mobilizes Security Forces Ahead of Critical Election

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Bangladesh is putting hundreds of thousands of uniformed personnel and civilian monitors onto the streets in hopes of securing a fair and peaceful election Monday. The national parliamentary balloting is to clear the way for the government caretakers, installed by the army in early 2007, to return power to a democratically elected government.

    For Bangladesh this will be the third try at democracy since the country won independence from Pakistan in 1971.

    The military-backed government, in place for nearly two years, in one of its final acts, has sent the army onto the streets after the lifting of emergency law to try to ensure a peaceful election. 

    Keeping the peace

    In past elections, rallies would often end with violent clashes between supporters of the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. An estimated 600,000 enforcement officers and soldiers this time are trying to keep peace and there appears to be serious restraint by the parties to keep their supporters in line.

    The actual balloting will be scrutinized by 200,000 monitors and 2,000 foreign observers.

    The chairman of the National Election Observation Council, university professor Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, told VOA the observers should help mitigate any attempts at rigging the results.

    "It'll boost confidence in the process. We know that the whole world is looking at us. Apart from them we the local observers are here. So if you combine both the national and international effort, we get a real sort-of confidence-building measure, he said.

    The parliamentary election is meant to restore democracy and usher in a new era, hopefully devoid of the corruption and violence of the past.

    The next PM: Hasina or Zia?

    It is almost certain that the next prime minister will be either Sheik Hasina of the Awami League or the BNP's Kaleda Zia. The two women, known as the "Battling Begums" for their fierce rivalry, have each previously served as prime minister. Both were jailed by the interim government on graft charges.

    One survey found that about 150 candidates are either facing murder or corruption charges. But Professor Kalimullah said criminal suspects are free to contest the election until their appeals to the Supreme Court are exhausted.

    "Both the parties, they have candidates like them. And those people were tried under state of emergency by kangaroo courts, quote, unquote. So those are doubtful sort of verdicts, as well," he said.

    What also still remains in doubt is, despite the best effort of the election commission and the caretaker government, whether Monday's balloting can be conducted fairly and peacefully. Also critical for the return to democracy: the losers accepting the outcome and agreeing to challenge the next government in parliament rather than on the streets.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora