Abdus Sattar, 79, the only elected civilian president in Bangladesh's turbulent 13-year history, died Oct. 5 at a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He had heart and kidney ailments.
The current president of Bangladesh, Gen. Hussain Mohammed Ershad, who is on a state visit to Turkey, issued a statement eulogizing the man he overthrew three years ago as "one of the ablest sons of the nation."
Mr. Sattar, a lawyer by training, spent two years in charge of the ministries of law and parliamentary affairs before serving as vice president under President Ziaur Rahman from 1977 to 1981. When President Zia was assassinated in an attempted coup in May 1981, Mr. Sattar became his country's acting president.
The ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party later nominated Mr. Sattar as its candidate for president in the election of November 1981. Mr. Sattar, who received 66 percent of the vote, became the country's first civilian president. He did not take an active part in politics due to ill health. He was deposed by Gen. Ershad in a March 1982 coup.
Mr. Sattar was born in Dhaka and was a 1929 graduate of Calcutta University. While working as an attorney in what was then British-ruled India, he took part in political groups seeking autonomy for Bengal. After the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, Mr. Sattar lived in Dhaka, the new capital of what was then East Pakistan.
He served as a judge and then as interior minister of East Pakistan in the mid-1950s before being named to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In 1969 he was named Pakistan's chief election commissioner. During the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, which led to the independence of Bangladesh, Mr. Sattar remained in West Pakistan. He returned to his native Bangladesh after independence, where he led a quiet life until he was named special assistant to President Zia in 1975.