DHAKA, Dec. 25, Reuter: Bangladesh Finance Minister Mohammad Sayeduzzaman has resigned, the government said on Friday but denied that an economic setback caused by a month of unrest forced him to quit.

“It has got nothing to do with our current state of economy or whatever some opposition leaders are trying to make out”, information Minister Anwar Zahid said.

He said Sayeduzzaman resigned “on some personal grounds” and President Hossain Mohammad Ershad had accepted his resignation.

Begum Khaleda Zia, Chief of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said she was told the Minister resigned because he felt unable to run the ministry any longer. She told journalists he quit because he could not face going to international aid donors again to beg for money.

Khaleda and Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami League, have spearheaded a month long campaign by 21 political parties aimed at forcing Ershad to step down.

They have refused to talk peace with Ershad and demanded that the President resign after handing over to a neutral caretaker government.

Sayeduzzaman, 57, a former civil servant, became a finance adviser in 1984 and Finance Minister last year when Ershad restored civilian democracy after his four and half years of military rule.

Sayeduzzaman, who was not a member of Parliament and declined to enter politics, played an important role in seeking aid for Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest nations, with an annual per capita income of 130 dollars. More than 80 per cent of the country’s annual budget is financed by the world’s rich nations. At its annual meeting in Paris last April, the aid consortium pledged 1.8 billion dollars to Dhaka.

Diplomats say severe economic setbacks through strikes called by the Opposition may force some countries to revise their aid. The opposition has called a fresh strike for December 29 and for a week of antigovernment protests and tallies to keep up pressure on Ershad.

“The economy may wait, but let us solve our political questions once and for all,” Sheikh Hasina said.

Ershad, 57, ordered a State of emergency last month and arrested once and for all,” Sheikh Hasina said.

Ershad, 57, ordered a state of emergency last month and arrested nearly 5,000 dissidents during protests against him.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 1, 1988