INTRODUCTION: The legacies of two assassinated political giants have loomed strongly over an election campaign to choose a new President in Bangladesh.
BANGLADESH (VISNEWS - ATIQUAL ALAM)
1977: GVs President Zia arrives at military parade as crowd looks on--troops march past--SV Zia saluting on rostrum (4 shots)
Background: INTRODUCTION: The legacies of two assassinated political giants have loomed strongly over an election campaign to choose a new President in Bangladesh. Between them, General Ziaur Rahman and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman held supreme power in the impoverished country for nearly all of its 10 years of independence. President Mujib was murdered in 1975, and President Zia last May. The parties they led -- General Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Sheikh Mujib's Awami League -- have both put forward candidates for the presidential election on November 15. The BNP's candidate, a clear favourite to win, is Acting President Justice Abdus Sattar, aged 76. His party's campaign is based mainly on the policies of General Zia.
SYNOPSIS: The memory of General Zia--six months after his death during an abortive army mutiny-- is expected to be the strongest vote-catcher for the party he created during his fight to restore democracy to Bangladesh--a country created from the ashes of a brief but savage war.
1971 ... the last moments of the conflict as an Indian bomber is hot down in Dacca. Even before, as East Pakistan, the country suffered intense poverty, and economic repression. Now, with the help of India, Bangladesh emerged as a nation.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was sworn in as Bangladesh's leader in 1972 and was hailed as the father of the nation. It was a personal and political triumph for a man who'd spent a lifetime struggling to win recognition for an independent Bengali people. But he could do nothing to prevent the cycle of natural disasters which strike this corner of the world every year.
Two years later came disastrous floods which affected over 20-million people. Large areas of agricultural land were inundated, crops were destroyed and thousands starved to death. The food shortages came at a time when President Mujib was facing growing political opposition -- both from the extreme left and right.
In August, 1975, Sheikh Mujib and his family were assassinated in a bloody military coup. Another coup and further political confusion were to follow. Finally major-General Ziaur Rahman emerged as the new leader of Bangladesh. In 1978, he won massive backing in the nation's first direct presidential election.
Most of Bangladesh's 75 million people live in the depths of poverty and three-quarters of them suffer some form of malnutrition. But General Zia continued to help farmers in the "Green Revolution" -- his predecessor's plan to make the country self-sufficient in food production.
In March, 1981, General Zia celebrated Independence Day in Bangladesh -- ten years after it became a separate state. Two months later the President was dead. He was assassinated at the start of a revolt by army officers in Chittagong on May 30. Twelve army officers were executed for their part in the unsuccessful mutiny. Their hanging led to rioting in the streets of Dacca by young people who claimed to have fought in the war against Pakistan in 1971.
Acting President Justice Sattar, considered the presidential election's leading contender, says he wants to continue General Zia's policies:
Another of the 31 contestants in the presidential race is General Osmany who led Bangladesh's forces during the liberation struggle. But the former Minister of Defence doesn't have significant backing.
Mr. Kamal Hossain of the opposition Awami League, a lawyer and former Foreign Minister in sheikh Mujibur's government, is Justice Sattar's strongest rival. Dr. Hossain blames the current leadership for the present economic crisis. And Justice Sattar says the Awami were responsible for a large measure of state control. Bangladesh's 49 million voters will present their own verdict on November 15.
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