Tens of millions of Bangladeshis have voted in a general election in the hope of putting an end to two years of emergency rule. The results are expected later this evening. Security was ultra-tight but despite the long queues, the mood on the streets was cheerful, even festive, on a day which had been declared a bank holiday. But the election once again pits two old rivals against each other.
Former prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, another ex prime minister, have dominated the political scene for nearly 20 years. Critics say neither really made a dent in Bangladesh’s problems. Both women have pledged to lower food prices and tackle corruption and terrorism in the nation of 144 million people, where 45 percent live below the poverty line. The outcome is likely to be close with observers saying what matters most is whether the loser accepts the result. About 50,000 soldiers and 600,000 police were deployed to guard against fraud and violence.