Ex-military dictator rules out coup | india | Hindustan Times
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Ex-military dictator rules out coup

Retired Gen Mohammad Ershad said the army would not want to risk its lucrative role as the largest provider of UN peacekeeping troops.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 17:41 IST

Bangladesh's Army, which has grabbed the reins of power several times already, is unlikely to step in again this time despite the country's raging political unrest, its former military dictator says.

In an interview with the agency, retired general Hussain Mohammad Ershad said the army would not want to risk its lucrative and prestigious role as the largest provider of UN peacekeeping troops.

Nevertheless, he warned that the impoverished nation was a young democracy -- East Pakistan, as it was then known, won independence just 35 years ago -- and its people had "lost faith and trust in politicians."

"We wanted to have a democracy, but unfortunately we have not achieved that so far," said Ershad, who grabbed power in a bloodless coup in 1982 and ruled the nation until 1990.

"Democracy is possible in this country. We are an emerging democratic country, a young democracy, and we have teething trouble," he said.

Crisis-wracked Bangladesh is currently under a state of emergency and tens of thousands of troops have been called out by the president to restore order after months of political violence.

The former coup leader asserted that the army was "not going to do anything outside the constitution" -- but believed the political crisis had threatened to push the country "toward civil war".

"Our force has been deployed in many countries in peacekeeping forces, so if the army takes over, then this role will be in question. So the army taking over and martial law, no, I do not think that will happen," he said.