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Bangladesh Opposition Nominates Chief Justice as Interim President

December 06, 1990| From Times Wire Services

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Opposition parties on Wednesday nominated the chief justice of the Supreme Court to head a caretaker government, meeting Bangladesh President Hussain Mohammed Ershad's condition for resigning.

Ershad, who has been beset by often violent protests to his rule, said Tuesday that he will resign as soon as his replacement is chosen.

The news that Ershad is stepping down was greeted with noisy celebrations by tens of thousands of people, many of whom ran from their homes in pajamas to dance in the streets and set off firecrackers.

Opposition sources said the decision to nominate Supreme Court Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed was reached after an eight-hour meeting of the 22 opposition parties.

Ershad had called for a special session of Parliament on Saturday to nominate a vice president to head a caretaker government until a new election is called. The nomination of Ahmed is expected to be ratified at that session.

Ershad, whose National party, or Jatiya Dal, holds more than two-thirds of Parliament's 300 seats, has already promised to support the opposition's nominee.

Ahmed, 60, said his immediate task will be to restore order. The opposition claims that at least 100 people were killed by security forces and hundreds of others injured since Ershad declared a state of emergency Nov. 27. The government says only six people died.

Ershad, who only a few weeks ago had confidently predicted that he would be reelected next spring, caved in to the opposition's demands with an abruptness that stunned the country.

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