Bangladesh's Caretaker Government Urges Record Turnout for Election



For most of its history since gaining independence 37 years ago, Bangladesh has been under authoritarian rule. The country is hoping nationwide parliamentary elections Monday will be the start of a return to democracy.   The vote follows an extended state of emergency during which civilian caretakers put into power by the military hoped to end a national legacy of political corruption.  

The man who has led Bangladesh's caretaker government for the last two years made an election eve appeal for "mutual respect, solidarity and flexibility."

The acting prime minister, or chief advisor as he is known, Fakhruddin Ahmed, spoke for 30 minutes on national television, telling voters their one-day verdict would determine who governs Bangladesh for the next five years.

The chief advisor says the main goal of the caretaker government is on the verge of being fulfilled: paving the way for a free and fair election.

The interim government conducted a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign, jailing the two women who are again vying to lead the country: former prime ministers Sheik Hasina and Khaleda Zia. They were released from custody to participate in the election.

The country's chief election commissioner, A.T.M Shamsul Huda, in an earlier televised speech, assured voters that the balloting will be carried out peacefully and fairly thanks to photo identification of voters and translucent ballot boxes. He urged the people of Bangladesh to go to the polls in record numbers.

Addressing a concern that the mobile phone system would be shut off during balloting, Huda says a decision has been made to leave the network switched on, but voters will not be able to bring their cell phones into the polling centers.

Officials say 81 million people are eligible to vote after 12 million fake names were culled from the electoral roles.

The head of the European Union observer delegation, Charles Tannock, a member of the European Parliament, tells reporters he is impressed with the voting system the Bangladesh election commission has established.

"I have every confidence in the legal framework which has been set up by the Election Commission," he said. "I think it's a very strong system. I would go further. I'd say, in many ways, on paper stronger than what we have in the United Kingdom."

As many voters cannot read or write they will make their selections based on party or candidate symbols.  Sheik Hasina's Awami League is represented by a boat while Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party uses an image from a rice paddy. Other are using marks of easily recognizable everyday items such as a sewing machine, wrist watch or a television set.

Voting will commence at eight o'clock Monday morning local time for an eight-hour period. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have been deployed to try to ensure peaceful voting and protect ballot boxes.

Bangladesh suffers from chronic poverty. The desperate state of the economy was underscored on election eve with reports from neighboring India's Andaman islands that as many as 300 Bangladeshis are feared dead after a boatload of illegal migrants unsuccessfully attempted to swim ashore.

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs