‘Friends of Grameen Bank’ defend Nobel laureate Yunus from aggressive govt attacks

Thursday, February 17, 2011

LONDON - A group of charities led by former Irish President Mary Robinson has come to the defence of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus after the Bangladeshi government asked the Grameen Bank chief to retire as he has reached the normal retirement age for executives at private banks.

The Friends of Grameen group alleges that he has been subjected to “politically orchestrated” and “increasingly aggressive” attacks.

“Our duty is to protect the integrity of Professor Yunus and the independence of Grameen Bank,” said Mary Robinson Friends of Grameen Committee chair.

Analysts say Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina fell out with Prof Yunus in 2007 when he tried to set up his own political party, The BBC reports.

In December, she accused Prof Yunus of treating Grameen Bank as his “personal property” and claimed the group was “sucking blood from the poor”.

Robinson said that some highly visible private microcredit experiences had been set up around the world because of the pioneering work of Prof Yunus to provide loans to the poor.

“Because of the importance of such a role model, our duty is to protect the integrity of Professor Yunus and the independence of Grameen Bank,” she said.

“One of our immediate focus points will be to urge an independent monitoring of the fairness and legality of the current dealings of the government of Bangladesh… with Grameen Bank,” she added.

The group - which includes former World Bank President James Wolfensohn - said that Prof Yunus and Grameen were the victims of “a campaign of misinformation”.

Earlier, Bangladesh’s Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told the BBC that the government began talking to Prof Yunus around a year ago about who would succeed him and redefining the bank’s role.

Recent developements reflect an increasing divide between the Awami League-led government and Prof Yunus, who set up the Grameen Bank about three decades ago to provide microcredit - small loans to the poor. (ANI)

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