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US senator Kerry 'deeply concerned' at Yunus removal

Saturday March 5 2011



US Senator John Kerry says he is "deeply concerned" by efforts to remove Muhammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank he founded and urged the Bangladesh government and Nobel laureate to reach a compromise.

The 70-year-old economist was abruptly sacked as managing director of Dhaka-based Grameen Bank by Bangladesh's central bank on Wednesday in what his supporters say was the culmination of a year-long vendetta against him.

Kerry, who heads the powerful US Senate foreign relations committee, said he hoped the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the 2006 Nobel peace prize winner could reach a "compromise" on the issue.

"I am deeply concerned by efforts to remove Muhammad Yunus as managing director of the Grameen Bank," he said in a statement late Friday.

"The international community will watch this situation closely, and I hope that both sides can reach a compromise that maintains Grameen Bank's autonomy and effectiveness."


Yunus defied the Bangladesh central bank order and returned to work on Thursday at Grameen's headquarters before later lodging a case in the High Court contesting the legality of his dismissal.

"Institutions like the Grameen Bank make a significant contribution to Bangladesh's development and democracy and Professor Yunus's life-long work to reduce poverty and empower women through microloans has deservedly received worldwide attention and respect," Kerry said.

Bangladesh's high court will rule on Yunus's dismissal on Sunday.

Yunus -- who appears to have no political ambitions -- has launched a legal battle against the central bank's efforts to remove him from his position as Grameen Bank managing director over a technicality dating back to 2000.

Yunus said Thursday he wanted a "graceful solution" allowing him to step down.

Supporters say Yunus's troubles stem from 2007 when he floated the idea of forming a political party, earning the wrath of the powerful Hasina who has publicly disparaged his work.

Grameen Bank, which is 25 percent state owned, has more than eight million customers, providing collateral-free loans in 82,000 villages across Bangladesh.