Skip to main content

Bangladesh's president dies at 84

By Farid Ahmed, for CNN
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 0054 GMT (0854 HKT)
President Zillur Rahman at the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Dhaka, February 12, 2009.
President Zillur Rahman at the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Dhaka, February 12, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Mohammad Zillur Rahman died in hospital at age 84
  • He was suffering from acute kidney and respiratory problems
  • Rahman was elected president, a largely ceremonial position, in 2009
  • An Awami League member, he had been involved in national politics for decades

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Bangladeshi President Mohammad Zillur Rahman died Wednesday at a Singapore hospital, where he was being treated for a lung infection, an official with his office said. He was 84.

Rahman was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Hospital on March 10. He died there Wednesday afternoon, according to the official, Mohammad Shafiul Alam.

He had been taken from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, to Singapore by air ambulance after his health deteriorated and was suffering from acute kidney and respiratory problems when he died.

Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, meaning the role of the president is largely ceremonial. The president is elected by the parliament, while the prime minister is chosen in a general election.

Rahman, of the ruling Awami League, was elected to the position in 2009, becoming the 19th president of Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and others offered their condolences on Rahman's death.

Independence struggle

Born in 1929 in the Kishoreganj district of Bangladesh, Rahman became involved in politics when he was a student at Dhaka University.

He played a significant role in the country's war of independence in 1971 and was a close aide to the country's founder, President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Mohammad Zillur Rahman became a member of the Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in 1970 and was elected a member of parliament five times after his country's independence.

As a senior figure in the Awami League, he was imprisoned for four years after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. He was again detained in 1986.

He served twice as the general secretary for the Awami League, which won a landslide victory in the 2008 general elections.

Zillur Rahman's wife, Ivy Rahman, also an Awami League politician, was killed in grenade attacks on a party rally in Dhaka that left 24 people dead and more than 200 injured in August 2004.

Sheikh Hasina, who is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, narrowly escaped the 2004 grenade attacks.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT