Ershad wants to be Bangladesh president again
Former Bangladesh president Hussain Mohammed Ershad wants to be president again as part of a reported bargain with the ruling alliance led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), media reports said.
This was part of the preconditions laid by him, besides withdrawal of all cases against him and his wife and an unspecified but "large" number of nominations in the seat-sharing arrangement for the next parliamentary poll, The Daily Star newspaper said.
The conditions were laid during a two-hour meeting that Ershad had with two BNP leaders, Tareq Zia, the prime minister's son, and Lutfozaman Babar, minister of state for home affairs.
The newspaper said the meeting over dinner took place at Ershad's home in downtown Dhaka.
Ershad and his wife Roushan had formally met the prime minister on July 2, triggering speculation that he might be invited to join the ruling coalition.
Ershad had denied it the next day and maintained this stance subsequently.
However, he said after the Wednesday meeting: "We had primary discussions today and it will take some time to reach an agreement. I have placed many conditions before him [Tareq] which I have mentioned earlier".
"Today we discussed the conditions," the former president said without elaborating. But he hinted at further discussions later with the higher echelons of BNP about fulfilment of the conditions.
About nominating him as president, he said that issue was also discussed in the meeting.
The office of the president falls vacant next year, when the parliamentary elections are also likely to take place.
Ershad heads the Jatiya Party - the third largest party in the current parliament with 14 seats, polling over four per cent of the total votes polled in the October 2001 elections.
A former army chief, Ershad captured power in 1982 and remains the longest-ruling head of state.
He was ousted in 1990 following a mass movement that brought all political parties together. Bangladesh has witnessed a parliamentary form of government since 1991.