Courtesy - The Bangabhaban
Bangladesh President Mohammad Zillur Rahman Dead
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Bangladesh President Mohammad Zillur Rahman, a close aide of the country's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, died today at a Singapore hospital where he was being treated for kidney and respiratory problems, officials said.

He was 85.

"He breathed his last at the Mount Elisabeth Hospital," a Presidential spokesman told PTI.

Bangladesh ambassador to Singapore said doctors proclaimed him dead at 6.47 pm (local time) when his only son, daughters and close relatives were present.

Rahman was admitted to the facility on March 10 as he was flown to Singapore by an air ambulance for critical lung infection, a day after he was rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) at Dhaka cantonment.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was working closely with the High Commission of Bangladesh on the arrangements for the President's body to be flown back to Bangladesh tomorrow.

Rahman, a veteran politician, who celebrated his 85th birthday earlier this month was installed as the ceremonial head of the state in 2009, becoming the 19th President, after Awami League was elected in the landmark December, 2008, general elections.

A lawyer by profession, Rahman was a close aide of Bangladesh's founder and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and is regarded as a key figure in consolidating the ruling Awami League's unity at different times after 1975 coup when Sheikh Mujib was killed along with most of his family members.

Rahman is survived by a son who is a lawmaker and two daughters.

Bangladesh has announced a three-day state mourning.

"The acting president announced the three-day state mourning for the death of President Zillur Rahman," a presidential spokesman was quoted by BSS news agency as saying.

Parliamentary speaker Abdul Hamid was made the acting president on March 14 to discharge the functions of President in accordance with the Constitution.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its profound sadness at the passing of President Rahman.

"The Ministry would like to extend its deepest condolences to the bereaved family, the Government of Bangladesh and the people of Bangladesh during this time of national mourning," said a statement from the Ministry.

President Pranab Mukherjee also condoled the death of his Bangladesh counterpart.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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