Dr Kamal Hossain has announced he is bringing the curtains on his 53-year-old political career.
Starting with the Awami League, he has been the head of the Gono Forum, a gradually shrinking party, for the last three decades.
The 86-year-old announced his retirement as the president of the Gono Forum at a party council in Dhaka on Friday, citing physical issues and old age.
He wished to continue working for the country as much as possible. “My sincerity, emotion, sympathy, assistance and advice for the party will also always be there.”
The council elected presidium member Mafizul Islam Khan Kamal as president.
Dr Kamal Hossain, an internationally renowned lawyer, has always been a big name in Bangladesh’s politics.
Before independence from Pakistan, he worked as one of the lawyers for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the Agartala conspiracy case.
He was elected MP from a seat left by Bangabandhu in the 1970 and 1973 elections.
After independence, he headed the committee that made Bangladesh’s constitution when he was around 35.
During the Liberation War, he was in jail in Pakistan. After Bangladesh won the war, he was released along with Bangabandhu. He later accompanied Bangabandhu on his way home via London.
Dr Kamal Hossain worked as the law minister in 1972 and the foreign minister from 1973 to 1975, until the assassination of Bangabandhu.
In the presidential election after the killing of Gen Ziaur Rahman in 1981, Dr Kamal contested as the Awami League candidate but lost to the BNP’s Justice Abdus Sattar.
As a member of the presidium, he had great influence on the Awami League at that time.
After the Awami League lost in the 1991 elections, Sheikh Hasina alleged vote rigging, but Dr Kamal Hossain said the polls were free and fair – comments that created distance with Hasina.
In a letter to Hasina, he blamed overconfidence and infighting for the election debacle.
He formed the Gono Forum in 1993 after losing his post in the Awami League, but the new party got only 0.13 percent of the total votes in the 1996 elections.
Hasina and Dr Kamal joined hands when the Awami League tried to form a grand alliance in 2006.
But Dr Kamal became the head of the BNP-led Jatiya Oikya Front alliance before the 2018 polls.
After the BNP lost in the elections, the party froze him out.
The Gono Forum then suffered splits, with Mostafa Mohsin Montu forming a breakaway faction of the party.