Acting president and Speaker Abdul Hamid is set to become Bangladesh’s next head of state unopposed as none of the other political parties fielded candidates yesterday for the April 29 presidential election.
The Election Commission had set April 21 as the only day for filing nomination papers for presidency.
The commission will declare Abdul Hamid the president if his nomination paper is accepted today. It will publish the gazette on the declaration after 6pm on April 24, which is the last day for withdrawal of candidature.
“We have received three nomination papers [of Abdul Hamid]. If his nomination is accepted as valid, we will declare him the winner in line with section 7 of the President Election Act 1991,” Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad told reporters yesterday.
If declared the winner, Hamid will be the 20th president of Bangladesh.
A delegation of the ruling Awami League, led by ASM Feroz, bought the nomination papers for Hamid yesterday. Former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, Fazle Rabbi Miah and Sefugta Yasmin accompanied Feroz.
In the presence of AL chief Sheikh Hasina, the acting president signed the nomination papers, approving his no objection to contest the polls.
Another delegation, led by Chief Whip Abdus Shahid, submitted the nomination papers to Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, the returning officer for the polls. Tofail Ahmed, Food Minister Abdur Razzaq and Golam Dostagir Gazi accompanied Shahid.
The AL Parliamentary Party unanimously endorsed the candidature of Hamid – a lawmaker for seven times (1970, 1973, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008) – in a meeting earlier in the day.
Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, and Nazma Akhter spoke at the meeting, highlighting Abdul Hamid’s political career.
“The meeting unanimously approved Abdul Hamid’s candidature as he is accepted to all political parties,” M Afzal Hossain, the MP from Kishoreganj’s Pakundia constituency, told the Dhaka Tribune later.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Syed Nazrul Islam, Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, Mohammad Mohammudullah, Khondaker Moshtaq Ahmad, Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem, Ziaur Rahman, Abdus Sattar, HM Ershad, Ahsanuddin Chowdhury, Shahabuddin Ahmed, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, Muhammad Jamiruddin Sircar, Iajuddin Ahmed and Zillur Rahman served as Bangladesh’s presidents in different terms.
The president has been elected only once since the dissolution of the presidential form of government through the restoration of the parliamentary form in 1991.
The BNP’s Abdur Rahman Biswas, who was speaker of the fifth parliament, was elected the president beating Awami League candidate Justice Badrul Haider Chowdhury.
In the present form of government, the president has some ceremonial roles. The head of the state is constitutionally bound to act in line with the suggestion of the prime minister, excepting appointments of the chief justice and the premier.
On March 14, Speaker Abdul Hamid took charge as president in line with the charter as his predecessor Zillur Rahman was flown to a Singapore hospital for treatment.
The post of president fell vacant as Zillur Rahman died on March 20.