Bangla elections after seven years

Dhaka, December 28:

The head of Bangladesh’s military-backed interim government pledged that tomorrow’s election for prime minister ---- the country’s first poll in seven years --- would be free and fair. The election is seen as crucial to restoring democracy in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which has a history of military rule and political unrest.

Still, the two top candidates are former prime ministers charged with corruption and many fear the election won’t bring the reform the impoverished country of 150 million desperately needs.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, the head of the interim government that took power when election were cancelled last year, said 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, according to the United News of Bangladesh.

Vying for the top post of prime minister are Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina - archrivals who have traded power back and forth for 15 years in successive governments marked by corruption, mismanagement and paralysing protests.

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


Last year, both were jailed on corruption charges.