Voters queue at polling stations for Bangladesh local elections

Other News Materials 4 August 2008 11:59 (UTC +04:00)

Thousands of Bangladeshi voters queued Monday in front of heavily guarded polling stations in four cities and nine towns to elect mayors in a landmark move to strengthen local governments, officials said.

The election, hailed as a first step to restore democracy by the army-backed national caretaker government, is the first since a state of emergency was declared in Bangladesh last year, reported dpa.

General elections, which were postponed after last year's violence, are now scheduled for December.

Voting in the four cities - Sylhet, Khulna, Rajshahi and Barisal - as well the nine towns started at 8 am (0200 GMT).

Emergency rules, which had been lifted ahead of the polling to allow campaigning, were reimposed Saturday night for fear of violence. They included a ban on campaigning.

Authorities were also testing a new digital voters list, aimed at stopping vote-rigging that has marred past elections.

It was the first time in Bangladesh's volatile history that public polling was being held in which voters were required to present identity cards with photographs to check for irregularities.