President of Bangladesh
Since 1991, the President of Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, a largely ceremonial post elected by the parliament. Since 1996, the President's role becomes more important after the term of the government has finished, when his executive authority is enhanced as laid down in the constitution of the country. The President resides at the Bangabhaban Palace
The Banga Bhaban is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of Bangladesh, the head of state of Bangladesh. Located in the capital Dhaka, the palace has been the official residence of the British Viceroy of India until 1912, when the capital was moved to New Delhi. From...

, the office and official residence of the President of Bangladesh.

Powers of the President

The role of the president has been changed thrice since emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. Bangladesh started its journey at the beginning of the Bangladesh war of independence from Pakistan on April 10th and 17th, 1971, when Bangladesh Forces and Bangladesh Government in exile respectively was established. After the oath ceremony was held at Meherpur, Kushtia, the government in exile set up its headquarters at 8 Theatre Road, in Calcutta, India. The first Bangladesh President to take oath of office was Syed Nazrul Islam with Tajuddin Ahmad as the first Prime Minister. After the war, with Sheikh Mujibur rahman's return, mujib took over the office of the Prime Minister, set up under a parliamentary system of government where the president was a nominal head of the state while all the executive powers were vested in the prime minister. In 1974, the government under prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali nationalist politician and the founder of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its...

 switched from parliamentary to presidential system. It was reverted to parliamentary system in 1991 when Khaleda Zia
Khaleda Zia
Begum Khaleda Zia is the former First Lady of Bangladesh , and then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, having served from 1991 to 1996, becoming the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim world to head a democratic government as prime minister. She served again from 2001 until...

 became the prime minister of the country through parliamentary election.

The President is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, a largely ceremonial post elected by the parliament. However the President's powers are substantially expanded during the tenure of a caretaker government
Caretaker government
Caretaker government is a type of government that rules temporarily. A caretaker government is often set up following a war until stable democratic rule can be restored, or installed, in which case it is often referred to as a provisional government...

, which is responsible for the conduct of elections and transfer of power. The officers of the caretaker government must be non-partisan and are given three months to complete their task. This transitional arrangement is an innovation that was pioneered by Bangladesh in its 1991 election and then institutionalised in 1996 through its 13th constitutional amendment.

In the caretaker government, the president has control over the Ministry of Defence, the authority to declare a state of emergency, and the power to dismiss the Chief Adviser and other members of the caretaker government. Once elections have been held and a new government and Parliament are in place, the president's powers and position revert to their largely ceremonial role. The Chief Adviser and other advisers to the caretaker government must be appointed within 15 days after the current Parliament expires.

Presidential elections take place every five years. The prime minister is then appointed by the president. The prime minister then selects a cabinet, which the president will appoint. All judges, including the Chief Justices, are appointed by Bangladesh's president. The Constitution of Bangladesh from 1972 has been amended on thirteen occasions. Bangladesh's laws have a founding in the English common law. However family law is rooted in religious scripts and may vary from one community to the next.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (BAL)

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to office with immense personal popularity but had difficulty quickly transforming this support into political legitimacy. The 1972 constitution created a strong prime ministership, an independent judiciary, and a unicameral legislature on a modified British model. More importantly, it enunciated as state policy the Awami League's four basic principles—nationalism, secularism, socialism, and democracy.

The Awami League won a massive majority in the first parliamentary elections in March 1973. It continued as a mass movement, espousing the cause that brought Bangladesh into being and representing disparate and often incoherent elements under the banner of Bangla nationalism. No other political party in Bangladesh's early years was able to duplicate or challenge its broad-based appeal, membership, or organizational strength.

The new government focused on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the country's war-ravaged economy and society. Economic conditions remained tenuous, however, and food and health difficulties continued to be endemic. In 1974, Mujib proclaimed a state of emergency and amended the constitution to limit the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, establish an executive presidency, and institute a one-party system. Calling these changes the "Second Revolution," Mujib assumed the presidency. All political parties were dissolved except for a single new party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL), which all members of parliament were obliged to join.

Assassination of Mujibur Rahman

Implementation of promised political reforms was slow, and Mujib increasingly was criticized. In August 1975, he was assassinated by mid-level army officers, and a new government, headed by a former associate, Khandakar Moshtaque, was formed. Successive military coups occurred on November 3 and 7, resulting in the emergence of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ziaur Rahman (Zia), as strongman. He pledged the army's support to the civilian government headed by the president, Chief Justice Sayem. Acting at Zia's behest, Sayem then promulgated martial law, naming himself Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA).

Ziaur Rahman (BNP)

Ziaur Rahman was elected for a 5-year term as president in 1978. His government removed the remaining restrictions on political parties and encouraged opposition parties to participate in the pending parliamentary elections. More than 30 parties vied in the parliamentary elections of February 1979, but Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won 207 of the 300 elected seats.

Acting behind the scenes of the Martial Law Administration (MLA), Zia sought to invigorate government policy and administration. While continuing the ban on political parties, he sought to revitalize the demoralized bureaucracy, to begin new economic development programs, and to emphasize family planning. In November 1976, Zia became Chief Martial Law Administrator
Chief Martial Law Administrator
The office of the Chief Martial Law Administrator was a senior government post created in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia that gave considerable executive authority and powers to the holder of the post to enforce martial law in the country. This office has been used mostly by...

 (CMLA) and assumed the presidency upon Sayem's retirement 5 months later, promising national elections in 1978.

Islamic ideology

Zia moved to lead the nation in a new direction, significantly different from the ideology and agenda of Sheikh Mujib. He issued a proclamation order amending the constitution, increasing the direct influence and role of Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 on the government. In the preamble, he inserted the salutation "Bismillahir
Basmala or Bismillah is an Arabic noun used as a collective name for the whole of the recurring Islamic phrase b-ismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi, It is sometimes translated as "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful"...

(In the name of Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

, the Beneficent, the Merciful
). In Article 8(1) and 8(1A) the statement "absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah" was added, replacing the commitment to secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

. Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 was redefined as "economic and social justice." Zia further introduced provisions to allow Muslims to practice the social and legal injunctions of the Shariat and Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

. In Article 25(2), Zia introduced the principle that "the state shall endeavour to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity." Zia's edits to the constitution redefined the nature of the republic from the secularism laid out by Sheikh Mujib and his supporters. Islamic religious education was introduced as a compulsory subject in Bangladeshi schools, with provisions for non-Muslim students to learn of their own religions.

In public speeches and policies that he formulated, Zia began expounding "Bangladeshi nationalism," as opposed to Mujib's assertion of a Bengali national identity. Zia emphasised the national role of Islam (as practised by the majority of Bangladeshis). Claiming to promote an inclusive national identity, Zia reached out to non-Bengali minorities such as the Santals, Garos
Garo (tribe)
See also Garo for other uses.The Garos are a tribal people in Meghalaya, India and neighboring areas of Bangladesh, who call themselves A·chik Mande or simply A·chik or Mande...

, Manipur
Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west; it also borders Burma to the east. It covers an area of...

is and Chakma
Chakma may refer to:*Chakma people, a Tibeto-Burman people of Bangladesh and Northeast India*Chakma language, the Indo-European language spoken by them*Chakma script...

s, as well as the Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

-speaking peoples of Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

i origin. However, many of these groups were predominantly Hindu
Hinduism in Bangladesh
Hinduism is the second largest religious affiliation in Bangladesh, covering more than 9.2% of the population, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics...

 and Buddhist
Buddhism in Bangladesh
Buddhism is the third largest religion in Bangladesh with about 0.7% of population adhering to Theravada Buddhism. Most of the practiconers are the tribal Jumma people who are found mainly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where they constitute about 45% of the area's population.- Demographic Overview...

 and were alienated by Zia's promotion of political Islam. In an effort to promote cultural assimilation and economic development, Zia appointed a Chittagong Hill Tracts
Chittagong Hill Tracts
The Chittagong Hill Tracts comprise an area of 13,295 km2 in south-eastern Bangladesh, and borders India and Myanmar . It was a single district of Bangladesh until 1984. In that year it was divided into three separate districts: Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban. Topographically, this is the...

 Development Commission in 1976, but resisted holding a political dialogue with the representatives of the hill tribes on the issue of autonomy and cultural self-preservation. On July 2, 1977 Ziaur Rahman organised a tribal convention to promote a dialogue between the government and tribal groups. However, most cultural and political issues would remain unresolved and intermittent incidents of inter-community violence and militancy occurred throughout Zia's rule.

Reforms and International Relations

Notable mentions of Ziaur Rahman's tenure as a President have been radical reforms both in country's infrastructure and diplomacy. President Zia successfully pointed out the grounds those could be effectively and exclusively decisive for development of Bangladesh and his reforms covered the political, economical, agricultural and military infrastructure of Bangladesh. Reorganization of Bangladesh's international relations are especially mentionable because it had active influence over both economy and politics. He successfully bailed Bangladesh out of the Indo-Soviet bloc
Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation
The Indo–Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation was a treaty signed between India and the Soviet Union in August 1971 that specified mutual strategic cooperation...

 and grabbed the distancing strings to put bar on the gradually deterioration of Bangladeshi relations with the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. Zia gave attention to the other Eastern superpower China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 that later helped Bangladesh hugely to recover from economical setbacks and to enrich the arsenal of her armed forces.

The most notable of Zia's reformed diplomacy was establishing a magnificent relationship with the Muslim world as well as the Middle-east. The present bulk overseas recruitment of Bangladeshi migrant workers to several Middle-eastern countries are direct outcome of Zia's efforts those he put to develop a long-lasting relationship with the Muslim leadership of the world. The purpose of Middle-east relations has been largely economical whereas the rapid improvement of relations with China was particularly made to for rapid advancement of the country's armed forces.

Throughout the study of Zia's international relations it could have been suggested that attention to the bigger neighbor India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 has been largely ignored. But Zia was found to put strong emphasis on regional cooperation particularly for South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. It came evident after Zia took initiative to found SAARC. Zia's dream of Bangladesh's involvement in a strong regional cooperation was met after 4 years of his assassination when SAARC got founded on 8 December 1985 with a key role of the then Bangladeshi authority.

Assassination of Ziaur Rahman
In 1981, Zia was assassinated by dissident elements of the military. Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar was constitutionally sworn in as acting president. He declared a new national emergency and called for elections within 6 months. Sattar was elected president and won. Sattar was ineffective, however, and Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad assumed power in a bloodless coup in March 1982.

Hussain Muhammad Ershad (Jatiya Party)

Like his predecessors, Ershad dissolved parliament, declared martial law, assumed the position of CMLA, suspended the constitution, and banned political activity. Ershad reaffirmed Bangladesh's moderate, non-aligned foreign policy.

In December 1983, he assumed the presidency. Over the ensuing months, Ershad sought a formula for elections while dealing with potential threats to public order.

On January 1, 1986, full political rights, including the right to hold large public rallies, were restored. At the same time, the Jatiyo (People's) Party (JP), designed as Ershad's political vehicle for the transition from martial law, was established. Ershad resigned as chief of army staff, retired from military service, and was elected president in October 1986. (Both the BNP and the AL refused to put up an opposing candidate.)

In July 1987, the opposition parties united for the first time in opposition to government policies. Ershad declared a state of emergency in November, dissolved parliament in December, and scheduled new parliamentary elections for March 1988.

All major opposition parties refused to participate. Ershad's party won 251 of the 300 seats; three other political parties which did participate, as well as a number of independent candidates, shared the remaining seats. This parliament passed a large number of legislative bills, including a controversial amendment making Islam the state religion.

By mid-1990, opposition to Ershad's rule had escalated. November and December 1990 were marked by general strikes, increased campus protests, public rallies, and a general disintegration of law and order. Ershad resigned in December 1990.

See also

  • Prime Minister of Bangladesh
    Prime Minister of Bangladesh
    The Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh is the Head of the Government of Bangladesh. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Jatiya Sangsad Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate...

  • Politics of Bangladesh
    Politics of Bangladesh
    Politics of Bangladesh takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the...

  • Caretaker government
    Caretaker government of Bangladesh
    The Caretaker Government of Bangladesh is a form of government system in which the country is ruled by a selected government for an interim period during transition from one government to another, after the completion tenure of the former. As the outgoing government hands over their power, the...

  • Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
    Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
    The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh heads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The current foreign minister is Dipu Moni, who has served since January 6, 2009.-List of foreign ministers:-See also:* Constitution of Bangladesh...

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