Vol. 5 Num 859 Sat. October 28, 2006  
Front Page

Hasan 'unwilling' to be caretaker chief
Oath-taking not to be held today, Bangabhaban claims he is sick

In a dramatic development late last night, former chief justice KM Hasan has indicated his reluctance to take oath as chief adviser to the caretaker government, a source close to Hasan said.

The former chief justice, who became the centre of controversy after the Awami League accused him of politically bias, informed his decision to the cabinet secretary when he rang up Hasan last night for the oath-taking, the source confirmed.

Moklesur Rahman Chowdhury, press secretary of the president, also told The Daily Star last night that the cabinet secretary had contacted Hasan about the oath-taking ceremony.

"Hasan told the cabinet secretary that he is sick. Therefore, the oath-taking ceremony will not be held tomorrow," Mokhles told the UNB. He, however, could not specify any later date.

Interestingly, an announcement on Hasan's sickness was made from the president's house shortly after Prime Minister Khaleda Zia met President Iajuddin Ahmed at the Bangabhaban for an hour following her address to the nation.

The Daily Star source, who had met Hasan last night as a friend, said the former chief justice is not sick at all. The source talked about the latest political developments with Hasan and was convinced that the former chief justice is not willing to step into the political hotbed.

Hasan became the natural choice to be the chief adviser after the government suddenly amended the constitution to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 67 years. The AL alleged that the amendment was made with a view to making Hasan the chief adviser.

As pressure mounted, the BNP finally agreed to have dialogue with the AL on caretaker government reforms that ultimately zeroed in on Hasan. The talks ended in naught after six sittings spread over 18 days.

Sources said with the end of the alliance government's tenure yesterday and violence spreading across the country, many of the persons being eyed as advisers to the caretaker government also expressed their reluctance to step in.

Now speculations are rife about the possible chief adviser. The BNP had earlier told the AL that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz qualifies as chief adviser if Hasan declines. But the AL countered by saying that former chief justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury is the next man according to the constitution. Moreover, Aziz cannot be the chief adviser as he already holds a constitutional post as CEC, which bars him constitutionally to hold any other post of the republic.

Justice KM Hasan