More than 150 former officers of the armed forces have put their weight behind the ruling Awami League in its race to parliament as Bangladesh is set to head to the polls on Dec 30. The former army, air force and navy officers met the party’s chief Sheikh Hasina at the Ganabhaban and pledged to work for it on Tuesday. They greeted the prime minister with flowers and posed for photos with her.
The retired officers will bring “more dynamism to the election activities” so that Hasina can win the polls, said retired Major General Tarique Ahmed Siddique, the security affairs adviser to the prime minister.
“We must ensure that the country can advance at the current pace without any hindrance,” Tarique Siddique said.
Hasina thanked the former officers for their support. “Your announcement of solidarity will strengthen and encourage us and the people,” she said.
She also hoped it will help Bangladesh move forward.
The Awami League expressed optimism that it will be able to form the government for the third consecutive term, securing a victory in the election.
The former defence officers, who have pledged to make the partys dream come true, include 109 from the army, 18 from the air force and 19 from the navy.
Recently, 10 such former officers joined the Kamal Hossain-led Gono Forum ahead of the election, but no-one of them were of high ranks.
The officers, who expressed support for Hasina, include retired Brigadier General Nasir Uddin Ahmed, who had been a director of the military intelligence agency DGFI during the rule of HM Ershad. He had also been involved with Ershads Jatiya Party after retirement.
Retired Lieutenant General Abdul Wadud is a former principal staff officer to the prime minister in the Armed Forces Division. He had also worked as the chief engineer at the army and as an assistant director at Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory. After retirement in 2013, he joined Summit Group as its managing director.
Retired Lieutenant General Molla Fazle Akbar was made the director general of the DGFI in 2009. He later became the commandant of the National Defence College.
Retired Lieutenant General Sabbir Ahmed became the general officer commanding of the Army Training and Doctrine Command in 2015. He was appointed the chief of general staff at the Army Headquarters the same year. He had earlier worked as the GOC of the 24th Infantry Division and area commander of Chattogram.
Rear Admiral Abul Kalam Mohammad Azad was co-accused with Hasina in the frigate corruption case started during the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government in 2002. He was a commodore at the time. The High Court dismissed the case in 2010 after the Awami League returned to power. Azad was later promoted to the rank of rear admiral with retrospective effect.
Journalists were handed a list of 147 former military officers present at the event, but Tarique Siddique said more than 150 attended it.
A number of the retired officers also spoke at the event.
“The other political parties used the armed forces to usurp power at different times, but the Sheikh Hasina government always worked for the development of the armed forces,” retired air commodore Delwar Hossain said.
The other speakers also pledged to work to keep the pro-independence forces in power under Hasinas leadership.
নৌকার পক্ষে নামা সশস্ত্রবাহিনীর সাবেক কর্মকর্তারা
There were three retired lieutenant generals, 18 major generals, 19 brigadier generals, seven colonels, 20 lieutenant colonels, and 35 majors from the army at the event. They also included several former officers with the rank of captain and lieutenant.
The former navy officers included two rear admirals, seven commodores, six captains, and a lieutenant commander.
From the air force, a retired air vice marshal, two air commodores, eight group captains and seven wing commanders came to the programme.
Among those who delivered speeches were retired lieutenant commander Jamal Uddin (Bir Uttam), retired lieutenant general Abdul Wadud, retired rear admiral Harunur Rashid, retired major general HR Haroon, retired brigadier general Mahmudul Haque, retired major Helal Morshed and retired lieutenant colonel Kaniz Fatema.
Awami League Presidium Member and former army officer Faruk Khan, joint general secretaries Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, and organising secretaries AFM Bahauddin Nasim and BM Muzammel Haque were also present.