Hussein Mohammed Ershad, former Bangladeshi military dictator, dies at 89 – Washington Post

Hussein Mohammed Ershad, the former military dictator of Bangladesh who ruled from 1982 to 1990 and was serving as opposition leader in Parliament, died July 14 at a hospital in Dhaka, the capital. He was 89.

The death was confirmed by his younger brother, G.M. Quader, who said Mr. Ershad had been suffering from lung and kidney infections.

Mr. Ershad assumed power as the military chief in 1982 and declared himself president the following year. He later floated his own Jatiya Party and won a controversial election in 1986.

He was born Feb. 1, 1930, in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal, in what was then British India. His parents migrated to present-day Bangladesh, which was then a part of Pakistan, in 1948, after the end of British colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent.

Mr. Ershad was commissioned into the Pakistan Army in 1952 from the Officers Training School in Kohat, Pakistan. He was an adjutant in the East Bengal Regiment, the largest formation in the future Bangladesh Army.

After completing advanced courses from the Command and Staff College in Quetta, Pakistan, in 1966, he returned to Bangladesh in 1973, two years after his country won independence from Pakistan following a nine-month bloody war.

During the 1982 bloodless coup, he took over as the chief martial law administrator by removing the elected government. His rule ended in 1990, when he was ousted in a mass uprising led by Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, two archrivals who have been ruling Bangladesh intermittently since its return to democracy in 1991.

Hasina is the current prime minister of the South Asian nation.

Mr. Ershad had suspended the country’s constitution and Parliament and repressed his political opponents. To gain popularity, his critics said, he amended the constitution in 1988, declaring Islam the state religion. The Muslim-majority nation has a legal system based on British common law.

After his ouster, he was arrested in 1991 and released on bail in 1997, as he faced charges in more than two dozen cases. (He was acquitted on many of the charges.) Mr. Ershad was accused of backing a 1991 military coup in which one of his close military associates was killed. The case remained pending in court until his death.

Although his critics said Mr. Ershad destroyed many state institutions, others said he decentralized Bangladesh’s administrative structure, and constructed highways and other infrastructure across rural areas. During his rule, Bangladesh improved relations with the United States and Middle Eastern nations.

He was elected to Parliament in 2008, 2014 and 2018.

Information on survivors was not immediately available.

— Associated Press