Monday, December 29, 2008

Election Day!
December 29, 2008

Today is finally election day in Bangladesh! I gave Hamida the day off so that she could go vote.

Motorcycles are not allowed on the road today, so I have been staying inside. So far there does not seem to be any violence...

The polls closed about an hour an a half ago here. I am interested to see who won the election - the Awami League or BNP... Either way Bangladesh will still have one of the battling begums in power, but hopefully they will have learned a little from the two years that they have spent in jail and will keep some of the positive, anti-corruption policies instigated by the Caretaker Government.

I have read several articles in the paper about the police arresting people who are trying to buy votes here. Apparently in the past this is the main way that candidates won elections - by giving poor people money, food, or clothing to vote for them. Despite very strict rules set by the election commission, it seems that some people are still trying to work around the system.

It is very interesting to have been in Bangladesh these past two years. I arrived in October 2006, three months before the originally planned election. I witnessed the hartals and riots that crippled the country as the two main political parties fought over who would run the Caretaker Government during the election period. The fighting became so bad that the army stepped in and took over the government. They set up an Election Commission and have spent the last two years trying to create a fair voting system.

Since the ballots here are not electronic, it will probably take several hours (if not days) to get the final results. I am now interested to see if the losing party accepts the election result or if they will result to rioting. I hope it is the former... Bangladesh has been so peaceful for the past two years!

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