Bangladesh parliament poll starts on peaceful note

December 29th, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 29 (Xinhua) Polling began peacefully across Bangladesh amidst toughest security Monday to elect the country’s ninth parliament, election officials said. They said polls started at 8 a.m. and will continue up to 4 p.m. without a break.

No untoward incident was reported in the first hour.

More than 81 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect a 300-member parliament out of which the elections for 299 seats are being held Monday. Voting for one seat has been deferred till Jan 12 following the death of one candidate.

Witnesses said hundreds of men and women were seen standing in queue at different polling centres in capital Dhaka to cast their votes.

Over 600,000 security personnel, including nearly 50,000 military troops, built an unprecedented security bulwark across the country to ensure peaceful voting.

There are 35,216 polling centres across the country.

A total of 1,555 candidates from 39 political parties and independent are contesting the polls.

In the elections two mainline alliances, the Awami League-led Grand Alliance and the four-party alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are tipped as the main power contenders.

Over 200,000 local and more than 500 foreign observers are monitoring the crucial elections across the country.

The general election, previously scheduled for Jan 22, 2007, was cancelled after the declaration of state of emergency by President Iajuddin Ahmed Jan 11, 2007 following the political turmoil and clash between the two major parties - the BNP led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia and another former prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League.

The last general election was held in 2001.

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