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Page last updated at 04:46 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 05:46 UK

Bangladesh court rules on dispute

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

Mujibur Rahman
Mr Rahman was the father of the current ruler, Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh's high court has issued a ruling designed to end a decades-long dispute over who should be seen as the true father of the nation.

The court ruled that Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan in 1971 was first proclaimed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president.

Mr Rahman was the father of the current Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.

The opposition BNP has always said that independence was declared by the late husband of its leader, Khaleda Zia.

There has been no reaction to the court's ruling yet from the opposition party.

The two main parties - Awami League and BNP- have differed for decades over who should be seen as the true father of the nation.

Bangladesh is a bitterly divided country, dominated by two political clans with their own versions of history, and convinced that only they have the right to govern.

The two main parties both claim that their former leader should be seen as the true father of the Bangladeshi nation.

As power has alternated between the two, so the history books have each time been re-written.

Now, six months after a decisive election victory for Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, the High Court in Dhaka has ruled that her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, did in fact proclaim independence in a speech he gave as the war began.

It said that all claims to the contrary were lies.

The government will no doubt hope that this ruling settles the matter, but if the past is anything to go on, neither side will ever be ready to admit that it is wrong.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman become the first president of independent Bangladesh in January 1972. He was assassinated in 1975.



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