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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 15:33 GMT
Shock at Bangladesh resignation
By Waliur Rahman
BBC reporter in Dhaka

Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury (US Bangladesh Business Council)
There are rumours that Mr Chowdhury may join another party
The Commerce Minister of Bangladesh has resigned, triggering a mini reshuffle in the cabinet.

Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said he submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

It was accepted and he was replaced by the Home Minister, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury.

His surprise departure came five days after he was criticised in a meeting of the parliamentary group of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Severely criticised

Amir Chowdhury said he resigned from the cabinet for personal reasons, but refused to elaborate.

"I have resigned voluntarily, no one asked me to do so," he told the BBC.

Fellow MPs accused him of failing to stop the rising prices of essential commodities during a recent BNP meeting in which he was severely criticised.

The MPs demanded the downsizing of the cabinet by removing the ministers who have interests outside parliament.

I have resigned voluntarily, no one asked me to do so
Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, former commerce minister

Amir Chowdhury is one of Bangladesh's top businessmen and was the chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange before he became commerce minister after the general election two and a half years ago.

His resignation has sparked rumours that he too might join the former President, Badruddoza Chowdhury, who is trying to create a new political party.

Two weeks ago, two BNP MPs - Abdul Mannan and Mahi Chowdhury - resigned from the party and parliament to join the former president.

Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, who was under pressure because of rising crime, has now been made the new commerce minister.

His ministry will be run by the State Minister, Lutfozzaman Babor.

The reshuffle also saw the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Reaz Rahman, lose his post.

He was made an adviser at the foreign ministry.

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