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Bangladeshis vote for 1st time in 7 years

 Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina waves to her supporters at a rally ahead of general elections in Daudkan...
 Former Prime Minister and Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia addresses a gathering of supporters on the last day of campaigning ...
 Former Prime Minister and Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia is encircled by security personnel and a bullet proof glass at a ga...
 Leaders of Jammat-e-Islami and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) offer evening prayers with a backdrop of a portrait of former Prime Minister and Ch...
 People crowd the roof of a train leaving Dhaka as they try to reach their respective hometowns in time to cast their votes, a day ahead of general el...
 People board the roof of a train leaving Dhaka as they try to reach their respective hometowns in time to cast their votes, a day ahead of general el...
 Alim Hussain, who said he was 97, waits in a queue to cast his vote in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008. Bangladeshis formed long lines at po...
 Women stand in a queue to cast their votes for the general elections in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008. Security forces lined the streets M...
 A security personnel stands guard, as people stand in a queue to cast their votes for the general elections in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Dec. 29, 20...

Bangladesh Elections

Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina waves to her supporters at a rally ahead of general elections in Daudkan...

Bangladesh Elections

Former Prime Minister and Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia addresses a gathering of supporters on the last day of campaigning ...

Bangladesh Elections

Former Prime Minister and Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia is encircled by security personnel and a bullet proof glass at a ga...

Bangladesh Elections

Leaders of Jammat-e-Islami and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) offer evening prayers with a backdrop of a portrait of former Prime Minister and Ch...

Bangladesh Elections

People crowd the roof of a train leaving Dhaka as they try to reach their respective hometowns in time to cast their votes, a day ahead of general el...

Bangladesh Elections

People board the roof of a train leaving Dhaka as they try to reach their respective hometowns in time to cast their votes, a day ahead of general el...

Bangladesh Election

Alim Hussain, who said he was 97, waits in a queue to cast his vote in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008. Bangladeshis formed long lines at po...

Bangladesh Election

Women stand in a queue to cast their votes for the general elections in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008. Security forces lined the streets M...

Bangladesh Elections

A security personnel stands guard, as people stand in a queue to cast their votes for the general elections in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Dec. 29, 20...

Bangladeshis formed long lines at polling stations even before voting began Monday to choose a new prime minister and restore democracy after two years of emergency rule in the country's first election in seven years.
Authorities deployed 650,000 security forces across the country to prevent violence and vote fraud in the election, seen as crucial to restoring democracy in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which has a history of military rule and political unrest.
But both of the leading candidates _ former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina _ are facing corruption charges and many fear the election won't bring the reform the impoverished country of 150 million desperately needs. The two have traded power back and forth for 15 years in successive governments marked by corruption, mismanagement and paralyzing protests.
S.A. Quader, a 57-year-old businessman, was among about 500 voters who arrived a polling station in the capital's northern Uttara district at least an hour before it opened.
"I'm here to choose the right person to lead our country," Quader said. "I'm confident the election will be free and fair."
There were concerns that the polls might degenerate into violence as the last attempt at elections in 2007 did. That vote was preceded by weeks of deadly rioting between the Zia and Hasina's rival parties that prompted the military to cancel the election and declare emergency rule.
Clashes broke out Saturday between supporters of the candidates, leaving 85 people injured in three different districts, the United News of Bangladesh reported, quoting police and witnesses.
There was no reported violence Monday.
Fakhruddin Ahmed, the head of the interim government that took power when election were canceled last year, promised that this time the vote would go ahead as scheduled.
"All along I have spoken about holding a free, fair and credible election, and that election is going to be held tomorrow," Ahmed said Sunday. He lifted the state of emergency earlier this month.
Zia and Hasina have traded power several times. Zia was elected prime minister in 1991, Hasina in 1996, and Zia again in 2001.
During the back and forth, a well-worn pattern emerged: One party wins the election, and the other spends the term leading strikes and protests to make impoverished nation of 150 million ungovernable.
Last year, both Zia and Hasina were jailed on corruption charges, which they dismissed as politically motivated. They were freed on bail and reassumed positions as the heads of their respective parties, the two largest in the country.
In northwestern Chapainawabganj town, there were more women then men who stood in line to vote.
"I've come here half an hour before the polling began. There are already 200 women standing in lines," said Tashkina Yeasmin, a local resident. "I don't mind waiting."
Women in this largely conservative, male-dominated country see voting as a rare opportunity to wield power.
"This is one of the rare occasion when we can make our own decision," said Yeasmin.


Updated : 2021-07-31 12:34 GMT+08:00