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GB staff give govt 15 days to make Yunus bank’s chair

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Staff Correspondent

Grameen Bank employees at a press conference in Dhaka on Thursday gave the government a 15-day ultimatum to appoint Muhammad Yunus chairman of the bank.

On March 2, Bangladesh Bank had sought to remove Yunus as managing director of the Grameen Bank and just over two months later, on Thursday, Yunus lost the legal battle to overturn this removal order.

At the press conference, the bank’s employees also said that they would launch agitation programmes if Yunus was not made chairman of the bank within the two week period.

The employees gave the government the ultimatum hours after the Supreme Court had dismissed the application of Yunus and nine directors of the bank who had sought to appeal against the High Court ruling that had earlier upheld the legality of the Bangladesh Bank order for Yunus’s removal.

The Grameen Bank Employees’ Association’s adviser Sagir Rashid Chowdhury, also a former president of the association, at the press conference at the bank’s head office at Mirpur issued the threat.

‘We will not accept anyone other than Muhammad Yunus as chairman of the bank. Even if the prime minister’s son is appointed chairman, he will not be allowed to enter the bank’s compound,’ he said.  

‘We are ready to go to jail or even sacrifice our life, to make our movement successful. We will not allow anyone to loot our institution,’ he added.

The workers’ leaders also said that they did not get fair justice from the apex court. ‘We hoped that we would get justice from the Supreme Court,’ Sagir said.

‘We are deeply hurt and disappointed at the decision of the Supreme Court. We, however, respect the law as we are law-abiding citizens,’ Sagir added.

The association’s general secretary Mohsin Reza read out a written statement at the press conference which was attended by all the nine elected members of the Grameen Bank board and some high officials of the bank and its associate bodies along with the workers.

The conference was held after a daylong absence from work in protest at the court’s decision.

Rozina Begum, a director on the board who also spoke on the occasion, said that the board had extended its support for Yunus as the founder of the Grameen Bank. ‘We will stand by him as long as we live. He will be with us as long as he lives.’

Directors of the bank earlier called on the government to appoint Yunus chairman of the Grameen Bank.

A press release signed by directors — Rahima Begum, Nasima Begum, Josna Begum, Anowara Begum, Rozina Begum, Julekha Begum, Majida Begum, Shundari Begum and  Safia Begum — said that they were elected members to the 9th board of the Grameen Bank from among 8.3 million borrowers of the Grameen Bank.

‘We are the owners of 96.50 per cent of the Grameen Bank and under these circumstances, it is our responsibility to run the bank,’ the release said. ‘Unfortunately, the Bangladesh Bank is interfering in our work.’

The directors said that Yunus is the bank’s founder and the board appointed him managing director of the bank. ‘Authority of dismissal is always vested in the authority, which gives the appointment. The Bangladesh Bank cannot dismiss Muhammad Yunus without giving the board of the Grameen Bank any opportunity to decide on this issue. This has created an unprecedented episode for Bangladesh,’ the release said.

A section of former employees of the bank, on the other hand, marched in a victory procession by the Grameen Bank’s head office in the evening celebrating the courts verdict which they claimed is a ‘win for them’.

Masum Sarker, president of Grameen Bank Nirjatito Karmi Parishad, a platform of former Grameen Bank workers, led the procession. The sacked workers shouted slogans against Yunus terming him a ‘blood sucker and terrorist.’

Leaders of the platform also expressed their satisfaction at the court decision and termed the verdict ‘historic.’

A number of policemen in plain clothes were deployed at places near the Grameen Bank office and law enforcers were present when the press conference was taking place.

According to Grameen Bank officials, employees and officers of the bank and its sister concerns across the country did not join work on Thursday protesting at the court decision.



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    Thursday, May 5, 2011

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