Bangladesh president dies at the age of 84

Featured South East Asia - March 21st, 2013

Zillur Rahman, Bangladesh’s figurehead president, died Wednesday at a hospital in Singapore, officials said. He was 84.

Rahman was a veteran politician of the ruling Awami League Party before being named to the largely ceremonial post in 2009. Rahman earlier made his name as an activist who fought for Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistani rule.

He had been suffering from kidney and respiratory problems and was flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital on March 10 after his health deteriorated, reports AFP.

The government declared three days of mourning, starting on Thursday when his body will be flown back to Dhaka, the president’s office said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her “profound shock” and lamented “an irreparable loss to the country and its people”.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was saddened by the death of Rahman, who “made important contributions to the country’s democratic transition throughout his political life”.

However, Rahman’s death does not affect the government as Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, with the prime minister holding only executive powers, explains the Financial Times.