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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK
Bangladesh poll line-up complete
Awami League election rally
Campaigning is already under way
About 2,000 candidates will stand in Bangladesh's general election on 1 October, election officials said after the deadline for registered candidates to withdraw passed.

About 500 have pulled out.

Half of the candidates, who will be fighting for 300 seats, are standing as independents while the rest are rival supporters of two former prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia.

Election portrait of Ms Khaleda and her late husband, Ziaur Rahman
Khaleda leads a four-party coalition into the election

The vote will be taking place amid tight security after scores of killings since the start of the election period.

Ms Hasina's government, which was dissolved on 15 July to make way for a free election, was the first in the country's history to serve out its full term in office.

Her Bangladesh Awami League is facing Ms Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies.

Security fears

Ms Hasina has warned that the alternative to a new term for her party is an extreme version of Islamic rule.

"If Islamic rule is set up like the Taleban in Afghanistan, the people of Bangladesh will not accept it and the country will be gripped by unrest," she told foreign reporters.


If Islamic rule is set up like the Taleban... the country will be gripped by unrest

Sheikh Hasina

A Dhaka-based non-governmental organisation, Democracywatch, estimates that 95 people have been killed in political violence and 5,100 injured since 15 July.

Democracywatch said 42 of the dead were supporters of the Awami League and 25 backers of the BNP.

Government officials say that 125,000 troops and police will be deployed for the election.

Member of the Bangladeshi security forces
Security will be tight during the polls

The caretaker prime minister, Latifur Rahman, said the army would be deployed nine days ahead of the vote.

He added that security would improve and he would provide "right type of direction for a free and fair election".

In another development, a spokesman for Mr Rahman denied any bias against Ms Hasina's camp.

The spokesman added that Mr Rahman, a former chief justice, did not intend to stand in the presidential poll due to follow the general election.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Former PM Sheikh Hasina
"Many of my party workers and party leaders have been killed"
See also:

22 May 01 | South Asia
Support for Bangladesh female franchise
08 Jun 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Bangladesh
24 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
04 Sep 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh pre election violence
29 Aug 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh tightens gun controls
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