Three days before elections in Bangladesh, the two leading candidates are making last-minute pleas for votes. Begum Khaleda Zia is a former prime minister with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. She is urging her supporters to be on guard against any vote rigging by her opponents. Zia is up against another former Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, from the Awami League. Her party is accusing the BNP and one of its staunch allies of trying to stir up violence to derail the election.This impoverished country of more than 140 million people has been ruled for almost two years by an interim government backed by the army. The rivals both alternated as prime ministers of troubled and scandal-hit governments that ruled over 15 years until 2006.
Asif Nazrul is a law professor at Dhaka University. “I think one election can not change the fate of the country,” he said. “But if you carefully observe, people of Bangladesh are now becoming increasingly aware of the importance of human rights, the importance of good governance and they are raising their voice against corruption and any type of extremist activities”.The vote is being closely watched by the international community, which is keen to see a democratically elected government established. Some 2,000 foreign observers will join about 200,000 local monitors.