Bangladesh Is­lamists elect a new leader after ex­e­cu­tions

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi Is­lamist party al­lied to the op­po­si­tion has elected a new chief un­tainted by war crime al­le­ga­tions, seek­ing to turn the page after the ex­e­cu­tion of sev­eral of its top lead­ers. Ja­maat-eIs­lami said in a state­ment late Mon­day it had sworn in for­mer school teacher Maqbul Ahmed as its leader after a se­cret bal­lot of party mem­bers.

Ahmed takes over from Motiur Rah­man Nizami, who was hanged in May after a con­tro­ver­sial tri­bunal con­victed him of mur­der dur­ing the coun­try’s 1971 war of in­de­pen­dence with Pak­istan. Four other top lead­ers, in­clud­ing the party’s sec­re­tary gen­eral, its two joint sec­re­taries and its main fi­nancier, have been ex­e­cuted since 2013 fol­low­ing tri­als that rights groups have con­demned as un­fair. They were tried by the same war crimes tri­bunal set up by the sec­u­lar gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina, which said Ja­maat lead­ers had to be pros­e­cuted to heal the wounds of the war.

Sources close to Ja­maat said Ahmed, be­lieved to be in his early seven­ties, had been cho­sen from a panel of three se­nior party of­fi­cials who had not been tainted by war crimes. In his de­but speech he paid trib­ute to Hasina’s fa­ther, who led the war of in­de­pen­dence against Pak­istan, in a sign the party is look­ing to break from its past poli­cies. “He is an ex­pe­ri­enced leader and a very good or­ga­nizer,” said Abul Asad, the editor of the pro-Ja­maat Ben­gali daily San­gram. “He has said he wants to for­get the pains and sor­rows of the past and wants to look for­ward.” — AFP

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