Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Zillur Rahman named next president of Bangladesh

AFP AND DPA , DHAKA

Bangladesh’s Awami Party, which is poised to form a new government, named Zillur Rahman as the country’s next president, media reports said yesterday quoting party chief Sheikh Hasina Wazed.

“The party will nominate its presidium member Zillur Rahman as head of the state,” Hasina said after her party’s newly elected legislators took the oath of office, Ittefaq newspaper reported.

The 79-year old Zillur was elected deputy leader of the House by the party, to replace Iajuddin Ahmed as president after the new parliament goes into session.

“We want to recognize his contributions in all democratic movement in Bangladesh,” said Hasina, who is expected become prime minister this week.

Rahman played a vital role in keeping the party united during the absence of party chief Hasina during the two years of army-backed government, when she was in exile and later arrested by the junta.

The Awami League party won a landslide majority in parliamentary elections on Dec. 29, to return her to the prime minister’s post that she held from 1996 until 2001.

The new government is expected to sworn in tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s main opposition party, which was routed in the recent general elections, said it would boycott yesterday’s scheduled swearing-in of its members of the parliament.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) spokesman Rizvi Ahmed said the party’s 29 newly elected members of parliament would not attend the event, but declined to explain the decision.

Quddus Khan, a senior official at the national parliament, said the boycott would not affect the formation of the incoming government as Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party won a majority in last Monday’s elections.

The BNP’s refusal came a day after Bangladesh’s prime minister-elect Sheikh Hasina Wajed was sworn in along with all the Awami League MPs.

The BNP has conceded defeat in the elections but maintained that the polls, in which the Awami League won 230 out of a possible 300 seats, were rigged.

Held under tight security, the country’s first vote since 2001 saw turnout of 87 percent and little of the unrest that forced the last planned vote to be cancelled and an army-backed administration take control for two years.

Independent observers, including a team from the EU, have declared the election was free and fair.

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