Hasina to back Zillur for president
Sunday, 04 January 2009

Dhaka, Dec 3 (bdnews24.com)—A day after the row over the largely ceremonial presidency between Awami League and Jatiya Party reached its peak, Sheikh Hasina Saturday put to rest all speculations: The next occupant of the Bangabhaban will be Zillur Rahman.

"When the time comes for us to choose the president, we will nominate Zillur Rahman," the prime minister-elect disclosed her decision at a press briefing after the first meeting of the Awami League parliamentary party.

"He is an experienced leader. He has played important roles in all our struggles including the Language Movement," Hasina said of the man who led the party during her months in jail.

Asked about Gen Ershad's ambitions and the resulting tension between the electoral alliance partners, Hasina replied, curtly: "Let's see (what we can do about that)".

Pressed about Ershad's future role, she said, smiling: "He will be in parliament."

The parliamentary party had earlier elected her the leader, formally clearing the way for her to become the Leader of the House and be called by the President to form the government as prime minister.

Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad on Friday said the nation and his supporters wanted him to be president, hours after AL general secretary Abdul Jalil had made public the intention of the party.

Jalil told bdnews24.com on Friday, "We would like Zillur Rahman to become president and the Awami League president Sheikh Hasina prime minister."

The post of head of state has been the bone of contention between the big two in the grand alliance since the days leading to the general election.

"[As a key ally of Awami League-led grand alliance], my being president is the demand of the people of the country and ours as well," the former president told reporters on Friday.

Zillur Rahman was chosen Saturday as deputy leader of ALPP, a position he will leave when he goes to the Bangabhaban.

Meanwhile, the swearing-in of the new cabinet has been scheduled for Tuesday at 6pm.

Cabinet secretary M Abdul Aziz told bdnews24.com Saturday that preparations were on for the Bangabhaban ceremony, to be attended by more than a thousand guests.

In another development, BNP has said a decision is yet to be taken whether the party MPs will attend Sunday's swearing-in ceremony.

Source: bdnews24.com

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