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» 12/29/2008
Elections begin in Bangladesh amid tight security
At least 50,000 soldiers and 600,000 policemen are deployed to secure polling stations. Local and foreign observers are monitoring the process. Peace and stability are needed to attract foreign investments.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hundreds of people began queuing at the country's 35,000 heavily-guarded polling stations, which opened at 8 am (local time), to cast their ballot in parliamentary elections after two years of a military-backed caretaker government. About 50,000 soldiers and 600,000 police have been deployed to maintain security during and after voting.

The South Asian nation of more than 140 million has a history of rigged elections, sporadic periods of military rule, and politically motivated violence.

The outgoing army-backed caretaker government took over in January last year amidst violence and mutual charges of corruption by the country’s two main political blocks and cancelled an election due that month.

After a period of political clean-up, the two main blocks are back, headed by the same leaders, Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League and Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

To avoid election fraud, some 200,000 electoral observers, including 2,000 from abroad, are monitoring the vote.

Picture ID cards have also been issued to the country’s 81 million eligible voters after more than 11 million phoney names were purged from the old voter roll.

Although analysts have noted that voters are exited about casting their ballot, they are less hopeful about the results.

Ms Hasina and Ms Khaleda alternated in power for 15 years as prime minister but barely dented the impoverished nation’s huge problems.

Peace and stability are what is needed to attract foreign investments.

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See also
10/25/2006 BANGLADESH
Still disagreement over electoral reform in Bangladesh
01/12/2007 BANGLADESH
National state of emergency is imposed, elections postponed, but it all seems a contrived manoeuvre
by Nozrul Islam
11/03/2008 BANGLADESH
Some 80 million voters to cast their ballot in parliamentary elections on 18 December
04/12/2007 BANGLADESH
Ex-Bangladesh PM charged in killings
by Nozrul Islam
12/17/2008 BANGLADESH
State of emergency lifted to pave the way for elections in Bangladesh
by Nozrul Islam

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