Bangladesh has appointed parliamentary speaker Abdul Hamid as the acting president of the country as incumbent Zillur Rahman undergoes treatment abroad for illness.

“Speaker Advocate Abdul Hamid will discharge the function of President Zillur Rahman in accordance with article 54 of the Constitution until he (Rahman) resumes his office after treatment,” the state-run BSS news agency reported quoting Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan as saying yesterday night.

The comments by the country’s top bureaucrat came four days after octogenarian Rahman was flown to Singapore in an air ambulance for treatment.

Presidential officials meanwhile said 84-year-old Rahman was gradually recovering as he was being treated for severe respiratory problem.

“He is suffering from severe lung infection. Doctors started removing water from his lung as his condition stabilised a little and he is being given oxygen,” his son Nazmul Hassan Papan earlier said.

Earlier, Rahman had been admitted to hospital in Dhaka on Saturday as he complained of respiratory complications was later sent abroad.

Under Bangladesh’s constitution, the president is the titular or ceremonial head of state but the presidency assumes importance with the general elections, which are due next year.

Rahman, a veteran politician was installed as President in 2009 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won power in the landmark December 2008 general elections.

A lawyer by profession, Rahman was a close aide of Hasina’s father and Bangladesh’s founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and is regarded as a key figure in consolidating the Awami League’s unity at different times.

(This article was published on March 15, 2013)
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