Bangladesh gets next head of state

Outgoing President Abdul Hamid congratulated Shahabuddin over a phone call and both exchanged pleasantries.


February 14, 2023

DHAKA – Md Shahabuddin is the next president of Bangladesh.

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal, also returning officer of the presidential election, yesterday noon declared the ruling Awami League’s candidate elected unopposed after they found his nomination papers valid.

In the evening, a gazette notification was issued in this regard.

Within minutes after the gazette publication, outgoing President Abdul Hamid congratulated Shahabuddin over a phone call and both exchanged pleasantries, said a Bangabhaban press release.

Earlier in the noon, a delegation led by AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader went to the Election Commission office to be present during the scrutiny of the nomination papers.

After Shahaubddin was elected unopposed, Quader while talking to reporters at the EC office said the party had nominated a well-educated, honest, qualified and skilled person for the post of the country’s president.

“We [Awami League] have not nominated anyone whose name was Iajuddin but work was like Yes Uddin [who says yes to everything]. The Awami League does not nominate anyone who is anti-liberation, anti-independence, or who believes in arson terrorism,” he said.

In response to the BNP’s reaction that it has “no interest” in the president, Quader said the BNP has “no interest” in the country’s constitution or democracy and “this is not surprising for us at all”.

He hoped that the BNP would take part in the next national election as his party wants a competitive election.

When BNP candidate Abdur Rahman Biswas became the president in October 1991 following the restoration of democracy, it was the first and so far the last presidential election that saw a contest.

The presidential election takes place in parliament and members of parliament elect the head of state.

Abdur Rahman’s successors — Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, Professor Iajuddin Ahmed and Zillur Rahman — were elected unopposed between 1996 and 2009.

Abdul Hamid became the acting president following the death of Zillur Rahman. He was elected unopposed twice in April 2013 and February 2018.

His second tenure will end on April 23 and he cannot become president again as he held office for two terms.

According to Article 123 of the constitution, the presidential election must be held 60 to 90 days before the expiry of each five-year term.

The post of the president is mostly ceremonial as he or she is to act as per the advice of the prime minister, except when appointing the premier and the chief justice, but it takes on some significance during the polls. The head of state has a say in issuing directives to help the Election Commission function effectively.

With the 12th general election slated for January next year, top AL leaders believe someone trustworthy should be holding the president’s office during that crucial period.

Nicknamed Chuppu, Shahabuddin is a retired district judge and a former commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

A valiant freedom fighter, he was imprisoned for several years following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975.

He also served as the chairman of a labour court and a lawyer of the Supreme Court after his retirement.

In May 2017, he was appointed a director of Islami Bank Bangladesh board

after Chattogram-based S Alam group took over the lender in January of that year. Yesterday, he resigned from all the positions at the bank.

As an ACC commissioner from March 2011 to March 2016, he was vocal against the World Bank’s allegations of corruption in the process of building the Padma Bridge, after the global lender backtracked on its $1.2 billion deal for the project.

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