Ershad, Hussain Muhammad

Ershad, Hussain Muhammad,

1930–2019, Bangladeshi military and political leader, b. Cooch Behar (now part of West Bengal, India). Commissioned in Pakistan's army in 1952, he was a career soldier, rising from a commanding officer in the East Bengal Regiment to chief of staff of Bangladesh's army in 1978 after East Pakistan had become independent as Bangladesh and he had been repatriated (1973). In 1982 he led a bloodless coup and became chief martial law administrator, becoming president in 1983 after martial law ended. After founding the Jatiya party in 1986, he was elected president, continuing in that role until 1990, when he was forced from office by mass protests. In office he enacted land reforms, stabilized the Bangladesh army, and amended the constitution (1988) to make Islam the state religion, but was also accused of electoral fraud and corruption. Ershad was elected to parliament (1991, 1996) despite being jailed on corruption charges, released on bail (1997), and again jailed in 2000. Released in 2001, he was banned from politics for five years, then reelected to parliament in 2008, 2014, and 2018.