Hussain Muhammad Ershad Biography

(Former President of Bangladesh)

Birthday: February 1, 1930 (Aquarius)

Born In: Dinhata

Hussain Muhammad Ershad was a Bangladeshi army officer, who served as the President of Bangladesh from 1983 to 1990. After the ‘Liberation War’ of Bangladesh, he served in the ‘East Bengal Regiment’. He seized political power through a bloodless coup on March 24, 1982. He took measures to control concentration of power and corruption, not just among the masses but also within the Parliament. He contested many elections and won most of them by a clean margin. His regime is regarded as an era of military dictatorship by many. He was recognized globally by the ‘United Nations’ for his contributions to population and environmental issues. During his tenure, Ershad pursued various reforms, such as the expansion of the national highway system, privatization of nationalised industries, and devolution reforms. He was also instrumental in the formation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). 

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 89


Spouse/Ex-: Rowshan Ershad

Born Country: Bangladesh

Presidents Political Leaders

political ideology: Political party - Jatiya Party

Died on: July 14, 2019

place of death: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Founder/Co-Founder: Jatiya Party (Ershad), Bangladesh Jatio Sramik League, Grand Alliance

More Facts

education: University of Dhaka, National Defence University, Pakistan

Childhood & Early Life

Hussain Muhammad Ershad was born on February 1, 1930, in the Rangpur district of present day Bangladesh.

He started attending 'Carmichael College' in Rangpur and pursued his higher education from the University of Dhaka, graduating in 1950. Two years later, Ershad joined the Pakistan Army, following which he was recruited by the ‘East Bengal Regiment’ of Chittagong.

In 1966, he completed advanced military courses from the Command and Staff College, Quetta, Pakistan. After a period of three years, he was given charge of the 3rd East Bengal Regiment and then served the 7th East Bengal Regiment in 1971.

In 1971, during the ‘Liberation War’ of Bangladesh, he served as a commander in the 7th East Bengal Regiment.

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Bangladesh Liberation War & Its Aftermath

During the Bangladesh Liberation War, Ershad, along with other Bengali officers in West Pakistan were held as a prisoner of war. In 1973, Hussein was sent back to Bangladesh by the Pakistan Army, after India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan's President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto signed the 'Simla Agreement'.

After his return from Pakistan, Ershad was appointed Adjutant General of the Bangladesh Army. Following the assassination of the first president of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Ershad was made the Chief of the army staff in 1978 and then lieutenant-general of the army the following year by Ziaur Rahman.

On March 24, 1982, he took over the state power from Abdus Sattar. He introduced the martial law, which enabled him to remove the cabinet and parliament members, controlling corruption by arresting several former cabinet members.

In the following years, he rescheduled important dates of election, and formed the 'Jatiya Party' in 1986. The same year, the military leader was elected President for a term of five years.
Even though martial law was imposed during the election of 1986, the ‘Awami League’, which was the opposition party, won 30 percent of the parliamentary seats. This made Hussain’s decisions more acceptable to the public, and with the newly elected parliament, he introduced decentralization of power at civil as well as judicial levels.
Owing to opposition from two large rival parties, the President had to reschedule another round of parliamentary elections in 1988. He was once again elected as President, the same year, but this time he withdrew the martial law.

On December 4, 1990, due to strong opposition and a state of emergency in the country, the Bangladeshi President resigned from his post. He was accused of corruption as well as other offences.

During 1991-96, he faced trial and was charged for corruption as well as felonious possession of arms. Hussain Muhammad Ershad contested in the parliamentary elections from prison twice in the span of six years, and won on both occasions.

On January 9, 1997, he was granted bail, and was released from prison, but only because he had shown his support towards the ‘Awami League’. The next year, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh ruled that Hussain Muhammad Ershad's arrest had been illegal.

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In 2000, the ‘Jatiya Party’ was segmented into three groups, and the former President took charge of the strongest section.

Hussain was once again arrested in 2001, in a trial called the ‘Janata Tower Case’, on charges of using political authority to assign land. Even though he was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, the political leader only served four months, after which he got out on bail.

Hussain, once again, became the Chairman of the ‘Jatiya Party’, on April 8, 2008. The same year, he participated in the parliamentary elections, from the constituencies of Rangpur, Kurigram and Dhaka, eventually winning all the three. The same year, he also became a member of the ‘Mahajote’, or the ‘Grand Alliance’ of four political parties.

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh announced on May 15, 2011, that the martial law introduced by Hussain Muhammad Ershad was illegal.

Major Works
Hussain Muhammad Ershad was a former President of Bangladesh who, during his term brought about changes in many policies of government industries, and introduced major land reforms that gave several rights to tenants. He is also known for resting all political power in the hands of military officials, by establishing the martial law.
Awards and Achievements
In 1987, the ‘United Nations’ felicitated Hussain Muhammad with the ‘UN Population Award’, to recognize his efforts to address population issues in Bangladesh.
The next year, he was honoured with the ‘UN Environment Award’, to acknowledge his contribution to a global summit that discussed environmental conservation strategies.
Personal Life, Legacy & Death

In 1956, Hussain Muhammad Ershad married Rowshan Ershad.They had two children. 

In 2000, he married Bidisha Siddique. They had a son. They later divorced. Ershad had also adopted a son. 

Hussain Muhammad Ershad died on July 14, 2019, at the  Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka. He was 89.


Hussain Muhammad Ershad was also a talented poet with books like ‘Nobanne Shukher Ghran’ and ‘Kanak Pradip Jalo’, to his credit

See the events in life of Hussain Muhammad Ershad in Chronological Order

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