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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Nobel laureate drops party hopes
Muhammad Yunus arrives in South Korea on Wednesday to collect another award
Mr Yunus has appealed for unity
Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner and micro credit expert Muhammad Yunus has announced that he has abandoned plans to form his own political party.

In an open letter to his supporters, Mr Yunus said that he did not believe he had enough support for his movement, Nagarik Shakti (Citizen's Power).

His party was formally launched in February pledging to clean up politics.

Mr Yunus had planned to have candidates standing in every seat in elections for which no date has yet been set.

'Losing enthusiasm'

The vote was put off in January after violence between supporters of Bangladesh's two largest political parties.

"I am standing aside from my efforts to form a political party," Mr Yunus in an open letter to the public.

Political confrontation in Bangladesh
Mr Yunus said that people wanted a way out of instability

"I have seen those who initially encouraged me gradually losing their enthusiasm.

"I decided to enter into politics because of your support," he said, "but I came to understand that it is not possible and so accepting this reality I decided not to go forward," he said.

Mr Yunus and his Grameen Bank, which specialises in lifting people out of extreme poverty by giving small loans to the very poor, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last October.

'Not interested'

His decision to enter politics followed the crisis in January that led to a state of emergency imposed by a military-backed interim government.

Muhammad Yunus
I have found out that the people required to present a strong and bright alternative will not be by my side
Muhammad Yunus

"People gave me inspiration to enter politics (but) when I contacted them I did not get much response and they were not interested in joining the party. Others would not leave their existing political party," he said in the statement.

Mr Yunus said in February that his new party would offer an alternative to the two main political parties - the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League - which have dominated Bangladesh's notoriously corrupt political system for more than 30 years.

But correspondents say that many people questioned whether he had over-estimated his popularity in rural areas, where his bank's high interest rates are disliked.

They also pointed to the difficulty of breaking the Awami League and BNP's stranglehold on power.

Bangladesh's interim government has said it will only hold elections once corruption has been eradicated in the country.

It has arrested scores of politicians, civil servants and businessmen as part of its anti-corruption drive.




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