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Published:December 31st, 2008 11:00 EST
Bangladesh: National Parliamentary Election in 7 Years Held Successfully

Bangladesh: National Parliamentary Election in 7 Years Held Successfully

By Navaraj Kafle

Bangladesh: National Parliamentary Election 2008 

People`s Republic of Bangladesh has just faced a 9th National Parliamentary Election. The election was held successfully on 29th December, 2008. The country was on the hands of the Caretaker Government for two years after the BNP government formed in 2001. Residents of Bangladesh, about 98% of whom are ethnic Bengali and speak Bangla the National language, are called Bangladeshis and the rest are Urdu Speaking Bengalis, and tribal from Hill tracks make about 150 million of population.

Among them the total voters were 8,10,58,698 and the 31% of them were 1st time voters. The total male voters were 3,98,22,549 while female voters were 4, 12,36,149. More than 80% of them participated in the election to vote  their desired candidate with a great hope for change in the nation. The two key parties in the election were the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Khaleda Zia, and the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina. The Awami League formed a fourteen-party grand alliance (Mohajot) including Ershad`s Jatiya Party, [1] while the BNP formed a four-party alliance which included the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami.

About 8 millions of voters cast their votes on Monday as the country held the first election in seven years after two years of emergency rule. The voting marked the country`s first election in seven years, but with no fresh faces and with leading candidates Hasina and Khalidazia both facing corruption charges many still fear that the vote would just mean a return to the corruption, mismanagement and paralyzing protests of previous attempts at democracy. Hasina and Zia are heirs to Bangladeshi political dynasties and fixtures of the political scene. Zia was elected prime minister in 1991 and again in 2001 and Hasina was elected in 1996.

Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s political alliance has won a landslide victory in elections aimed at restoring democracy to the troubled South Asian nation, an election official said Tuesday. She has won from Rangpur 6 for the first time where she had been always losing the election. She was nominated for 3 Ahwami League seats from Gopalgung, Bagerhat and Rangpur and won all these seats.

Election official Humayun Kabir said Hasina`s alliance won a two-thirds majority in Parliament after votes in most districts had been tallied and also stated " This has been a very free and fair election," Bangladesh Ahwami League president Sheikh Hasina is going to be a prime minister for second time with her dreams to make Digital Bangladesh with in 2021 as a gift for present first time voters. She was the daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman known as the Father of Nation of Bangladesh, who led the country during the bloody war of 1971. Hasina`s whole family was murdered by the some Bangladesh Army officials in 1975, 15th August. Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehena were able to survive from that mass murder as they both were in London during that time.

Despite serious problems related to a dysfunctional political system, weak governance, and pervasive corruption, Bangladesh remains one of the few democracies in the Muslim world. Bangladeshis regard democracy as an important legacy of their bloody war for independence and vote in large numbers. However, democratic institutions and practices remain weak. Under the state of emergency, political activities remain restricted.

The current government had announced that national elections will take place during the third week of December 2008 and has pledged to hand over power to the elected representatives of the people as soon as these polls take place. Bangladesh is generally a force for moderation in international forums, and it is also a long-time leader in international peacekeeping operations. Its activities in international organizations, with other governments, and its regional partners to promote human rights, democracy, and free markets are coordinated and high profile. In May 2005, Bangladesh became a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

Bangladesh lies at the strategic crossroads of South and Southeast Asia. Potential terrorist movements and activities in or through Bangladesh pose a potentially serious threat to India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma, as well as Bangladesh itself .Following the August 17, 2005 serial bombings in the country, the government had launched a crackdown on extremists. More than 81 million eligible voters were photographed and provided national ID cards in a process that helped root out about 10 million fake or duplicate names from the previous voter list. The voting on Monday, which heralded Bangladesh`s return to democracy after two years of military-backed rule, was the most peaceful in decades a stark contrast to the failed elections of 2007, which dissolved into street riots and prompted the emergency measures.

However, Zia`s party has filed complaints with the Election Commission, charging ballot-rigging and forgery at 220 polling stations, including election officials registering fake votes while both Bangladeshi and international observers expressed satisfaction with the voting process. This is the time for all Political parties, candidates and citizens to accept the results and work together for a peaceful transition of power. It is the time to take great pride in the success of this election and think for the future of the nation rather than fighting like fools. The fate of Bangladesh is once again in the Hand of the newly elected leaders. Let`s hope that the government will focus their attention to alleviate the poverty, illiteracy and disease providing the basic human rights, justice and with the measures to advance the nation.