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Former Presidents
Lt. General Hussain Muhammad Ershad

The Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), Lt. General Hussain Muhammad Ershad assumed the office of the President of the Republic on 11 December 1983.* There was no swearing in ceremony. The CMLA Lt. General H. M. Ershad held a special munajat (prayer) at Bangabhaban after the assumption of the office of President. Immediately after assumption of office, General Ershad administered the oath of office to the members of the Council of Ministers. He held a referendum on 20 March 1985 on his 18-point programme and for the restoration of constitutional rule in the country. He retired from the Bangladesh Army with effect from 1 September 1986. On 15 October of the same year, a presidential election took place in which no major political party participated. He was declared elected on 20 October 1986 and took oath of office on 23 October as the third directly elected President (the other two being Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman and President Abdus Sattar) of the country at the Durbar Hall of Bangabhaban. Justice F.K.M.A. Munim, Chief Justice of the SC of Bangladesh, administered the oath of office. On 10 November 1986, Martial Law (imposed on 24 March 1982) was withdrawn after the approval of the Seventh Amendment Bill by the JS. From 1987, however, a nation-wide mass movement was built up for his resignation, which further intensified from October 1990. By the end of November, the anti-Ershad Movement compelled him to declare a state of Emergency. But the situation worsened. In the face of a mass upsurge, Ershad was forced to quit office on 6 December 1990.


Son of Muhammad Maqbul Hussain, a lawyer, Ershad was born on 1 February 1930 at Rangpur. He graduated from DU in 1950 and joined the army in 1952. He also completed the staff course in 1966 from the Staff College, Quetta. He was promoted to Lt. Col. in 1969. On repatriation, he was made Adjutant General and was promoted to the rank of Colonel on 12 December 1973. He attended the National Defence College in Delhi in 1975. He became Brigadier in June 1975 and Major General in August of the same year and was appointed the Deputy Chief of Army Staff. Ershad was promoted to the rank of Lt. General in December 1978 and became the Chief of Staff of Bangladesh Army. He assumed state power in a military coup and became CMLA on 24 March 1982.


Ershad floated a new political party called Jatiya Party (JP) in 1986. Elections to JS were held in May 1986 in which BNP did not participate but a part of the AL- led 15 - party alliance did. In the elections, JP won 153 seats against AL's 76. However, amidst allegations of mass rigging and media coup, Parliament was dissolved in December 1987. Election to the fourth parliament was held anew on 3 March 1988. This election was, however, fully boycotted by all major political parties. JP secured 251 seats out of 300. During his tenure of office, Ershad was able to introduce Upazila System.


After stepping down from power in the face of mass agitation by the opposition alliances, Ershad was arrested on 12 December 1990. A number of cases were filed against him, which included that of corruption, abuse of power, keeping of unlicensed arms and murder and he was sentenced to imprisonment.* After six years of confinement, the Supreme Court released Ershad on bail on 9 January 1997. He was twice elected from five parliamentary seats in the general elections of February 1991 and June 1996. He was, however, convicted in the Janata Tower Case by the HC on 24 August 2000. He surrendered as per the directives of the court on 20 November 2000. His parliamentary seat was declared vacant by the HC on 6 February 2000 and he was barred from contesting in the elections in the next five years as per the provisions of the Constitution for moral turpitude. After suffering imprisonment and detention for four months and nineteen days, he was released on 9 April 2001.


Jatiya Party contested in the JS elections held on 27 February 1991 and secured 35 seats and in the general elections of 12 June 1996, got 32 seats. H. M. Ershad still leads the mainstream of JP as its Chairman. His wife, Raushan Ershad, is an elected member of JS.


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