Dhaka: Bangladesh moved to force Nobel
prize winner Muhammad Yunus out of his pioneering microfinance
bank on Tuesday, with the central bank saying he had passed
retirement age and had to go.
Supporters of the 70-year-old Yunus, including former
Irish president Mary Robinson, say there is a campaign of
politically orchestrated attacks on the Nobel laureate after
he fell out with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2007.
Bangladesh Bank sent a letter to the finance ministry
saying that Yunus, who won the Nobel prize in 2006 for his
work making small loans to poor entrepreneurs, should be
removed from the Grameen Bank he founded.
"In the letter, the central bank has said professor
Muhammad Yunus has been staying as the chief executive of the
Grameen Bank for an indefinite period, which is illegal,"
Grameen chairman Muzammel Huq, a critic of Yunus, said.
Grameen Bank spokeswoman Jannat-E-Quanine denied that
the letter suggested Yunus should resign, saying that "a
Bangladesh Bank official has expressed an opinion regarding
Professor Yunus`s term as managing director".
"There is no directive on Professor Yunus to cease
functioning as managing director, nor is there any suggestion
of his being removed him from this post," she said.
But Huq, who was appointed as the chairman of the
board late last year, told AFP the letter clearly said Yunus
being the bank`s chief executive is "illegal and not valid".
"In the letter -- a copy of which has been given to me
-- the central bank said he no longer can stay as the chief
executive of the Grameen Bank because the retirement age of
the bank is 60," he said.