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Backgrounder: Profile of Bangladesh's new President Zillur Rahman
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08:15, February 13, 2009

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Zillur Rahman, senior leader of Bangladesh's ruling party Awami League, was sworn in as the country's 19th President Thursday evening.

After taking oath, Rahman began his five-year term as President, nominal head of the state, replacing incumbent President Iajuddin Ahmed who has already met his five-year term.

Rahman, now the senior presidium member of Awami League, was born on March 9, 1929. His father, late Mohammad Meher Ali, was a lawyer.

Rahman did his masters in history from Dhaka University and also his law degree from the same university.

He played a significant role in the historic Language Movement for establishing Bangla as one of the state languages of erstwhile Pakistan in 1952.

Rahman was elected member of Pakistan National Assembly in 1970.He was one of the front-line organizers of the war of liberation in 1971.

After independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Rahman was elected member of parliament in 1973.

Rahman was imprisoned for four years after the assassination of Bangladesh founding leader and first President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Aug. 15, 1975.

He was again imprisoned in 1986 when he was a sitting MP under the rule of former President H.M. Ershad.

Rahman, two-time general secretary of Awami League, was minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives in 1996-2001 under the government led by Awami League.

He performed as acting president of the party after its chief Sheikh Hasina was arrested by the past caretaker government in 2007.

Rahman's wife Ivy Rahman was the women affairs secretary of Awami League. She was killed in grenade attacks on a rally of Awami League on Aug. 21, 2004 in Dhaka.

Rahman is the father of one son and two daughters.

Rahman was endorsed by Awami League as president candidate on Jan. 3 after the party won a majority of 230 seats of the 300-member parliament in the country's ninth parliamentary elections held on Dec. 29, 2008.


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