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Feature: Bangladesh voters expecting changes for development after national elections
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14:00, December 25, 2008

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"I have decided... I believe the candidate I am going to support will do good things for my constituency if elected, like building infrastructures," said Moshed, a 42-year-old construction worker.

Moshed, working in Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka, told Xinhuaon Thursday that he will definitely go back to his hometown Kishoreganj district, 117 km northeast of Dhaka, on the election day Dec. 29 to cast his vote.

Like Moshed, many Bangladesh voters are eager to vote and expecting changes for development of their own constituencies and also the whole nation as a new government will be formed after the long-awaited 9th parliamentary elections putting an end to two years of caretaker administration.

They expect that the next elected government will work to drive the nation towards development and make the country financially self-dependent and free from poverty, corruption and illiteracy.

They also want political stability in the country not only to ease people's suffering from political turmoil but also to create favorable environment for both local and foreign investment to push the country's economy.

"We are eagerly waiting to have such a democratic government which will run the country with cooperation of opposition parties and keep parliament effective," said Annisul Huq, President of Bangladesh's apex trade body, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.

"We want that there will be less corruption and no hartal (strike) in the country," he said, adding that the next government's priority should be infrastructure development and build a business friendly environment to pave the way for development of the country of about 144 million people.

Bangladesh suffered a setback in receiving foreign direct investment in 2007, down 16 percent compared to a year earlier, due to political instability and the failure to reach decisions on large-scale investments.

The country's 9th parliamentary election was originally due on Jan. 22, 2007, but was postponed following violent disputes over the impartiality of election issues by major parties, which also led to an imposition of a 23-month-long state of emergency.

Abdul Mannan, a footpath based tea vendor in Dhaka, said, "I will cast my vote. I want nothing but peace so that I can pass my daily life safely eating at least two meals a day."

"We expect political parties will accept election if there is no major allegation of vote rigging. And whoever wins or losses election would work together for developing the country," said Asif Nazrul, a noted political analyst and law professor of Dhaka University.

Executive Director of leading local think tank Center for Policy Dialogue Mustafizur Rahman said, there is huge prospect for Bangladesh to step towards development if the next government can set right economic policies following emerging regional and sub-regional Asian countries.

However, not everyone shows interest in the upcoming polls. Towhid Hassan, a cinema owner in his 60s, said "I don't expect any difference after the election, although there maybe some new faces."

Akhi Ashraf, in her second year in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said she had not decided whether to vote even or maybe she would just cast "No Vote" as she had no confidence in any candidates. "So will many of my friends," said Akhi, the first time voter.

More than 1,500 candidates are contesting for 300 seats of the parliament in the national elections.

According to the country's Election Commission, the total number of voters is over 81 million, of which 50.9 percent are females while some 17 percent are new voters.


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