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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs