Hamid becomes Bangladesh's new president

Updated: 2013-04-22 17:31


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DHAKA - With tremendous challenges ahead, veteran leader Abdul Hamid was elected unopposed Monday as the president of Bangladesh which has been reeling under a violent political stand-off between the ruling and the main opposition parties.

"Abdul Hamid, speaker of the National Assembly, is elected president of Bangladesh as per section 7 of the Presidential Election Law 1991," said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakib Uddin Ahmed in a formal announcement on Monday morning.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling coalition Sunday named Abdul Hamid as its candidate for the post of the country's 20th president.

In line with the polls schedule announced on April 9, the aspirants will have to submit their nomination papers on April 21 and the deadline for withdrawal of the nomination papers has been set on April 24.

The presidential election of Bangladesh was slated for April 29. But no other candidate filed to run in the election.

The post fell vacant following the death of President Zillur Rahman on March 20 at the Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore, where he was undergoing medical treatment.

Since then, Hamid has been made the acting president.

After parliamentary democracy was introduced in the South Asian country, the lawmakers only once voted and elected president in 1991 as there were more than one candidates for the post.

But later the trend changed and the ruling party candidates have always been elected uncontested as president, which is said to be a ceremonial one and does not exercise any control over the running of the state.

Hamid became president at a crucial time when Bangladesh has been reeling under a violent political stand-off between the ruling and the opposition parties over restoration of a non-party caretaker government system to oversee the next general elections slated for early 2014.

Analysts say the new Bangladesh president will also have to handle a tumultuous political situation ahead of the next general polls, as the ruling Awami League and the main opposition Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP) are currently at loggerheads over the mode of the poll-time government.

Although the presidential post in Bangladesh is ceremonial one and does not exercise any control over the running of the state, the role has become important after the term of the government has finished, when his/her executive authority is enhanced as laid down in the constitution of the country.

It is widely believed that a veteran politician like Hamid could really pave the way in breaking the deadlock between the ruling and the opposition parties to reach consensus on a number of key disputed issues including poll-time government.

A lawyer by profession, Hamid, became the acting president on March 14 after late President Zillur Rahman fell sick and was flown to Singapore for treatment.

Hamid is the second National Assembly speaker that became president - an elevation from the state's No 3 position to No 1.

According to the constitution, the president shall hold office for a term of five years from the date of his joining office.

Hamid, a war hero, was elected member of Bangladesh Parliament six times, in 1973, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008, respectively.

The veteran politician was also elected as a member of parliament in the 1970 national elections when Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan.