The military strongman of Bangladesh, President Ziaur Rahman -- flushed with victory in this week's national referendum on his policies -- said he was surprised at the extent of his success.
The military strongman of Bangladesh, President Ziaur Rahman -- flushed with victory in this week's national referendum on his policies -- said he was surprised at the extent of his success. The 41-year-old general, who became President in April having effectively ruled the country since November 1975, held a news conference in Dacca after the referendum.
National Awami Party leader Mashiur Rahman, a prominent opponent of General Zia, criticised what he called the total use of government machinery to get a verdict in the President's favour. He said he could not believe the official voter turnout figures and called them fantastic. He said observers at four polling stations in Dacca had reported turnouts of between 20 and 22 per cent. Mr. Bahaddin Ahmed, Secretary of the Bangladesh election commission, stood by the figures.
SYNOPSIS: General Zia, as he is usually known, was relaxed and friendly as he greeted correspondents at his official residence.
He had of course plenty to smile about. For he won nearly 99 per cent of the votes in Monday's referendum (30 May). More than 33-and-a-half million people out of the 38 million eligible cast their ballots, according to the Bangladesh election commission.
President Zia said he had not expected so many of the electorate to vote. Only 56 per cent turned out in the 1973 general election. He was non-committal, though, when asked whether he intended to bring politicians into his military government. All he'd say was "We'll wait and see."