Dhaka: Government security forces and election monitors fanned out across Bangladesh on Sunday in hopes of ensuring a safe and credible election to return the country to democracy after two years of emergency rule.
An alliance led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League has the edge in Monday’s parliamentary vote, some analysts say. Others predict neither she nor rival and fellow ex-PM Begum Khaleda Zia will have an immediate majority.
Jockeying to win needed parliamentary support could add to fears of post-election violence. Security forces are concentrating on preventing violence at the polls after a brick-throwing attack on a motorcade and clashes injuring nearly 200 marred final campaigning on Saturday.
Great expectations: A 26 December photo of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina waving to supporters at a rally in Dhaka. Saurabh Das / AP
“We have further tightened security ahead of the election,” a police officer in one area hit by fighting said on Sunday.
Across the country, army troops were patrolling streets and police dispersing to polling points.
Apart from violence, Bangladesh elections have often seen widespread cheating and fraud, but for Monday, election rolls have been cleaned up, photo IDs provided, and some 200,000 local and 2,000 foreign monitors assigned to check procedures.
In final broadcast speeches on Saturday, both Hasina and Khaleda, nicknamed the “battling Begums”, suggested it was time to end confrontational politics in which losers refuse to accept results and strikes and violent street protests are common.