Bangladesh has been voting in a landmark parliamentary election aimed at restoring democracy after two years of emergency rule. An alliance led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League has the edge in the ballot, according to many observers. Others predict that neither she nor her bitter rival and fellow ex-premier Begum Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party will win an outright majority.
Analysts say the women’s policy differences are minimal and that it matters less who wins than that the losers accept the results. Bangladesh has a history of electoral violence and fraud. Authorities say anti-cheating measures put in place this time round should ensure a credible poll. Foreign monitors are among those observing.
The impoverished country’s interim government took over in January 2007 at a time of deadly political clashes, cancelling an election due that month. And amid violence over the weekend and during today’s voting, a massive security operation has been mounted by the army-backed administration.