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Fakhruddin new interim Govt head

The ex-Central Bank governor is tasked with steering the country through a political crisis that has resulted in a state of emergency.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2007 17:41 IST

A former Bangladesh central bank governor was sworn in Friday as head of the country's new interim government in a ceremony shown live by the state-run BTV television channel.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, a Princeton-educated former World Bank employee, took the oath in a ceremony at the presidential palace.

He is tasked with steering the country through a political crisis that has resulted in a state of emergency being declared and the cancellation of national elections.

"I, Fakhruddin Ahmed, am taking the oath that I will faithfully serve the duty of the chief advisor of the caretaker government as per the law," he pledged before an audience of political leaders, diplomats, and representatives of the armed forces.

Bangladesh Nobel Peace Prize winnner and microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus who won the award jointly last year with his Grameen Bank also attended. He had earlier turned down the job.

Awami League opposition leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who had pressed for the resignation of the former caretaker chief, BNP president Iajuddin Ahmed, also witnessed the swearing-in.

Khaleda Zia, leader of the outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and other BNP leaders, however, did not appear in the broadcast.

Ahmed was central bank governor between 2001 and 2006. Bangladesh's president resigned as head of the interim government Thursday.

He also postponed elections and declared a state of emergency, bowing to opposition demands following months of street protests.

Ahmed is widely seen as a politically neutral figure and most recently headed the government's micro-finance department.

Ahmed cancelled elections scheduled for January 22 after the Awami League-led opposition announced a boycott. Bangladesh has been wracked by months of violent protests and economic paralysis amid opposition allegations that the outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party had sought to rig the elections.

The president, who maintains his role as a ceremonial figurehead, had said a new interim government would be formed over the next few days.

"The new caretaker government will hold dialogue with all the parties, and prepare for new elections within the shortest possible time," the president said.

First Published: Jan 12, 2007 20:10 IST