Yunus refuses to step down as Grameen Bank chief

"We established Grameen Bank through a special ordinance, with rules that are specific, according to which my current term as managing director is fully valid," Yunus said adding that the government had three representatives on the board and they have unanimously approved these rules.

The statement said with more than eight million borrowers and shareholders, "when time will come, any transition will essentially require a friendly  environment and support from the inside and outside stakeholders of the Bank to ensure that we continue to be totally committed to our mission for and with the poor."

Yunus, 70, who won the Nobel prize in 2006 for his pioneering work in the field of micro-credit was told by Finance Minister A M A Muhith to "stay away" from his Grameen Bank while it is being investigated by the government.

According to Bangladeshi rules, the retirement age for private bank executives is 65 so Yunus should leave now as he is five years beyond the limit, Muhith said this week.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had accused Yunus of treating Grameen Bank as his "personal property" and claimed the group was "sucking blood from the poor".

Meanwhile, Yunus is drawing huge global support against the backdrop of his growing row with the government which wants him to step down from his position as the Grameen Bank chief.

According to media reports former Irish president Mary Robinson stood by Yunus as nearly 50 prominent international personalities or organisisations joined a grouping called Friends of Grameen.

Yunus's pioneering efforts has earned Bangladesh the repute of being the home of micro credit.

"We are deeply concerned by the ongoing attacks against Professor Yunus and Grameen Bank, that are politically orchestrated," said Robinson, also former United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

She said while some micro lenders became lucrative commercial enterprises, Yunus and Grameen Bank followed a sustainable model -- with "very transparent and reasonable interest rates -- making the borrowers owners of the bank".

"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," said, Robinson adding that Yunus and his Grameen Bank were exposed to "politically orchestrated" attacks falling "victim to a campaign of misinformation."

The Friends of Grameen was formed on February 11, 2011 as a voluntary  association that aims to promote micro credit and social business of Grameen Bank and its affiliates while its member list included former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, former Indian chief justice Jagdish Sharan Verma and French born US actress Yeardley Smith.

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