Monday, March 25, 2013


by Sumon Francis Gomes
The 19th head of state has died after a long illness at the age of 84 years. A man "above all parties and opinions," was part of crucial moments in the recent history of Bangladesh: from independence in 1971 to the emergency government in 2007 to steer the country toward democratic and transparent elections.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "The people of Bangladesh has lost their guardian" said Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, bidding farewell to Zillur Rahman, president of the country, who died at 84 from respiratory problems. A figure "above all parties and opinions," who helped to "establish democracy in the country."
Rahman died on March 20 at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, where he was hospitalized from March 11. The news of his death shocked the country, who considered him one of the "founding fathers" for his presence at all times during the founding moments of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
Born March 9, 1929 at Poirtala (Brahmanbaria district), Zillur Rahman began his political career in the Bengali language movement of 1952, the first sign of trouble between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. In 1971, he supported the civil disobedience movement led by the "Founding Father" Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was killed in 1973. After the war of liberation he became the Secretary General of the Awami League (1972), the Socialist and Secularist Party that would alternate with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP, nationalist) to lead the country. His role was also recognized in emergency government  imposed on 11 January 2007 (with the support of the army, ed) to lead the country towards democratic and transparent elections.
From 1996 to 2001 he was a Minister in the Awami League Government, led by Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Mujibur Rahman and current Prime Minister of the country. On 11 February 2009 Zillur Rahman became the 19th President of Bangladesh.

According to the Constitution, the new head of state should be elected within 90 days after the death of his predecessor. The election is scheduled for June 18, 2013.


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