Biography of Ziaur Rahman (1935-1981)

Politically and militarily bengali Shylet (East of Bengal, India)-born on January 19, 1935 and passed away on May 30, 1981 in Chittagong (Bangladesh). He/She was President of Bangladesh from 1977 to 1981.

He studied at the Academy military of Pakistan in the Punjab, where he/she graduated as an officer in 1955. He/She completed his training in military academies in Germany and Great Britain. He/She participated actively, as a Lieutenant Colonel, in the struggle for the independence of East Pakistan, the future Bangladesh, and was commissioned to proclaim the independence of the new State from Chittagong Radio. He/She jumped to the country's political scene when he/she joined the military coup which, in August 1975, overthrew and ended up with the life of President Mujibur Rahman. The new President, Khandakar Mushtaque Ahmed, appointed him Chief of staff of the armed forces. Then began a fierce struggle for control of power between Ziaur Rahman and Khalid Musharraf. The latter staged a coup on November 4, 1975, after which made the imprisoned Rahman; However, this was released three days later by a group of soldiers who handed power to Muhammad Sayen.

In the Government formed by the latter, Rahman served as Vice President; from this position he/she promoted the martial law of 1976, which turned him into the strongman of the country. When Sayen left the Presidency for health reasons in 1977, Rahman was appointed President of the Republic. In may he/she called a referendum to ratify the reform of the Constitution of 1972, which meant the left of secularism and the return to Islamic ideals. Rahman promised to launch a series of reforms in order to put an end to administrative corruption that invaded the country, and this proposed the imminent announcement of general elections. However, a failed coup in November 1977 resulted in the process are arrears. Nevertheless, the first elections in Bangladesh under the system of universal suffrage were held in July 1978. His candidacy won two-thirds of the votes, results that confirmed him in the post.

One of the main concerns of Rahman was foreign policy: established relations with Pakistan, but with India followed existing border problems and disputes over the distribution of water from the Ganges. Inside he/she carried out agricultural policy to implement an irrigation plan. Formed by supporters of former President Mujibur Rahman, guerrilla groups that were financed by India were organized in the North of the country. The opposition asked for the suspension of martial law, a general political amnesty and the formation of a parliamentary not presidential Government. The rigid rules of the martial law that governed since 1975 were smoothed by the President in 1979, which resulted in the release of many political prisoners. Rahman founded a new party, the Bangladesh nationalist party, at the head of which was presented to the elections on February 18, 1979, in which won 240 seats of the 330 disputed. The opposition resumed its accusations of corruption, which were reflected in the call for strikes and demonstrations across the country, which ended in serious clashes. Rahman was assassinated in May 1981, during a coup led by major Muhammad Abdul Manzour, a former teammate of the war of independence. The coup leaders, who accused Rahman of corruption, were arrested two days later and executed after a summary trial. His widow, Jaleda Zía, who was considered his political heir, was chosen for the post of Prime Minister on March 20, 1991.


LEVY, B.: Bangladesh nationalisme dans le revolution. (Paris, 1987).

O´DONNELL, C.: Bangladesh: biography of a Muslim nation. (London: Westview Press, 1984).