Polls close in Bangladesh

Voting has officially closed in the Bangladeshi general election, but officials said voters waiting in queues would still be allowed to cast their ballot, reported Aljazeera.

More than 81 million people were eligible to vote in Monday's election, with some observers estimating turnout at around 70 per cent.

The election - the first to be held in Bangladesh for seven years - should return the country to democratic rule after two years under a military-backed government.

Election officials and monitors said the polls were mostly peaceful but said no official estimate would be available.

The count was due to begin on Monday evening but results are not expected until Tuesday.

Commentators expect little will separate supporters of the two leading candidates, Sheikh Hasina Wajed of the Awami League and Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

"I've come here half an hour before the polling began. There are already 200 women standing in lines," Tashkina Yeasmin, one voter waiting in line in northwestern Chapainawabganj town, said.

The two rivals spent the final day of campaigning criss-crossing the country, promising to lower food prices, tackle armed oppoisiton groups and curb corruption.

Hasina and Zia both said in speeches broadcast on Saturday that it was time to end confrontational politics in which strikes and violent street protests have been common.

But at mass rallies they have accused each other of corruption, vote-rigging and incompetence, which may set the stage for post-election violence among partisans.

The women, nicknamed the "battling begums" for their intense personal rivalry, have dominated Bangladesh's political scene for the past two decades.

Last year, both Zia and Hasina were jailed on corruption charges, which they dismissed as politically motivated.

They were freed on bail and reassumed positions as the heads of their respective parties.

The impoverished South Asian nation of more than 140 million has a history of questionable elections, sporadic periods of military rule, and politically motivated violence.

But the outgoing army-backed government - which took over in January 2007 and cancelled an election due that month - says that when it comes to voting procedure and safety, this time things will be different.

Fifty-thousand troops have been deployed, as well as 75,000 police and 6,000 members of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), along with other auxiliary forces for security.

In addition, about 200,000 local and 2,000 foreign monitors were present at polling centres to check procedures.

Waliur Rahman, a former government official, told Al Jazeera that the elections were a "great day for Bangladesh".

"This is akin to a second form of independence day for us. It is a turning point for our nation," he said.

The newly elected government has the daunting task of improving the lives of millions in a country where around 45 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

While Hasina and Zia alternated in power for 15 years up until 2006, critics say they barely contributed to resolving many of Bangladesh's problems, mainly due to their parties taking to the streets in protests and strikes when out of office.

Analysts also say the women's policy differences are small and to attract much needed investment and aid what matters for Bangladesh is less who wins than that the election brings stability and peace.

"Once the result is known, it is vital that both the victor and the loser - whoever they may be - work together in the interest of the country," said Cassam Uteem, head of the Commonwealth Observer Group.

Israel reports 2,445 new COVID-19 cases, 193,374 in total
Israel reports 2,445 new COVID-19 cases, 193,374 in total
Israeli PM, Bahraini crown prince discuss cooperation over phone
Israeli PM, Bahraini crown prince discuss cooperation over phone
In Tel Aviv COVID-19 ward, warnings of dwindling hospital capacity
In Tel Aviv COVID-19 ward, warnings of dwindling hospital capacity
Loading Bars
Latest
Israel reports 2,445 new COVID-19 cases, 193,374 in total
Turkish President Erdogan discusses east Mediterranean with France's Macron
White House urges Congress to pass separate aid bill for airlines
UN chief appeals for global solidarity at UN General Assembly
UK records highest daily rise in new coronavirus cases since early May
Kazakhstan's ministry talks influence of quarantine regime on atmospheric background
Turkey reports 1,692 new COVID-19 cases
UK PM Johnson wins over rebels on Brexit treaty-busting powers
Gold reserves reduced in Uzbekistan
Volodymyr Zelensky makes phone call to President Ilham Aliyev
Tamar Gabunia: No new decision has been made regarding school resumption
France's Macron says U.S. maximum pressure on Iran not working
Israeli PM, Bahraini crown prince discuss cooperation over phone
Audit services in Azerbaijan improving step by step
Mayor urges holidaymakers to 'stay permanently' amid population boom in Bodrum
Iran purchases additional wheat from farmers
Turkish president makes phone call to Azerbaijani president
President of Uzbekistan to deliver speech at 75th UN GA session
28 Kazakhstanis died from COVID-19 on Sep 14-20
Valentina Matviyenko: Azerbaijan has been and remains strategic partner for Russia
U.S. COVID-19 deaths top 200,000 -- Johns Hopkins University
MP: Azerbaijan to give worthy response to any provocations of Armenia
Azerbaijani finance ministry’s securities in great demand
Cargo transportation volume through "Middle Corridor" by late 2020 disclosed
China's exports of flat-rolled products of non-alloy steel to Georgia down
Georgian expert: Azerbaijan harmoniously combines three world religions
Geostat reveals volume of Russian export to Georgia
Speaker of Azerbaijani parliament meets chairperson of Federation Council of Russian Federal Assembly (PHOTO)
Georgia reveals volume of processed grapes by regions
Georgia reveals export statistics of major goods to Russia
Israeli city vice-mayor: Azerbaijan highly appreciates tolerance
Baku Port: New transport corridors of Caspian Sea increases Middle Corridor's role
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale September 23
French Development Agency to fund construction of Uzbek hydropower plants
Review of Georgian exports to China
Red Cross representatives visit Dilgam Asgarov, Shahbaz Guliyev
Turkish president: Armenia - biggest obstacle to peace in South Caucasus
Kazakhstan to greatly increase level of automation of public services
Azerbaijan's AzInTelecom supports creation of new mobile app
Purchase of wheat in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province completed
Uzbekistan permits flights for Abu Dhabi low-cost airline
Georgian company AgroKartli expect to increase apple crop
New ambassador of Netherlands to Azerbaijan arrives in Baku
Azerbaijan eyes to open two more DOST Centers till late 2020
Azerbaijan's ADY Express reveals cargo handling volumes via BTK railway
Georgian Railway sees increase in cargo transportation
Germany increases export volumes to Kazakhstan despite COVID-19
Industrial production to be increased in Uzbek regions
Uzbekistan boosts import of grain, legumes from Turkey
Azerbaijani First VP Mehriban Aliyeva attends opening of new kindergarten (PHOTO)
ADIF discloses amount of сompensations made to clients of closed banks
Kazakhstan Air Astana to resume direct flights to Russia
IRI's International Assessment Team Arrives Ahead of Georgia’s Parliamentary Elections
Iran’s NISOC can increase extraction coefficient
Kazakhstan's progress on cereals and legumes harvesting revealed as of Sept.22
Bahar Azadi gold coin price climbs
Azercosmos begins cooperation with ViewMedia
National Bank of Georgia to sell funds at foreign exchange auction
COVID-19 pandemic negatively affects Georgian Sarajishvili's company
Ceramic plant being prepared to launch in Turkmenistan’s Lebap region
Iran Customs Administration to facilitate release of imported goods
Azerbaijan to upgrade local hydrological networks
Construction of new apartments across Iran's towns going full speed
Int'l community must stop terror carried out by Armenia against Azerbaijan - Lebanese lawyer
Review of Georgian livestock export to Azerbaijan
More Kazakh citizens sent back home from Azerbaijan by sea
Azerbaijani First VP Mehriban Aliyeva attends opening of new building of Children’s Art School in Bulbula settlement (PHOTO)
Georgia plans to create low-cost airline
Volume of cotton fiber exports from Azerbaijan revealed
Turkmengas to purchase chemical products via tender
Iran discloses number of small mines restored
Uzbekistan considers joining research of vaccine for COVID-19
Iran increases amount of foreign currency assigned to importers
Siemens sees market value of energy spin-off above $20 billion
Produce in Georgia agency to begin accepting applications for its Micro and Small Business Support Program
Uzbekistan increases electric cars import
Iran’s Khouzestan Steel Company reaches new production level record
“Protect the Caspian Sea” with support of Bakcell and its partners (PHOTO)
Updates on Uzbekistan’s nuclear progress
EY Azerbaijan officially announces the start of the ‘EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™’ 2020-2021 competition
Subsidiary of KazMunayGas to buy diesel fuel via tender
Cement imports by US from Turkey slightly up amid COVID-19 pandemic
IMF: Economic growth in Uzbekistan to be positive due to growth in construction sector
Azerbaijan's CBA discloses amount of foreign currency bought by local banks
Russia lowers import of Turkish clothes
Geostat reveals volume of citrus fruits exported by Georgia to Azerbaijan
Romanian WEVO company implementing state projects in Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
WTL ready to implement new project in Turkmenistan
Review of Georgian corn export to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has right to liberate its lands by military means - Turkish general
Azerbaijan confirms 113 more COVID-19 recoveries
Value of exports from Iran's Maragheh County revealed
Georgian corn oil to enter local market
ROMGAZ moves towards becoming active player on natural gas distribution market
Azerbaijan's Energy Ministry reveals data on gas production, export
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for September 22
Youth Union of New Azerbaijan Party issues appeal regarding Armenian provocation
PACE rapporteurs welcome decision to release Tofig Yagublu to house arrest
Oil rises on expectations demand can survive new lockdowns
Azerbaijan reveals oil production, export figures for ACG, Shah Deniz field
All news