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Bangladeshi lawmaker divorcing wife after her affair with ex-president

April 17, 1997 GMT

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ A lawmaker is suing his wife for divorce after former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad admitted to _ and ended _ a 14-year affair with her.

Mosharraf Hossain filed for divorce Wednesday at Dhaka’s Moghbazar marriage registration office, Syed Shariatullah, the area’s chief marriage official, said Thursday.

Hossain, a member of parliament from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, did not cite a reason. He and Zeenat Mosharraf, a legislator from Ershad’s Jatiya Party, married more than two decades ago.

Asked for her reaction, Mrs. Mosharraf became angry. ``Why are you destroying my family?,″ she said. She hung up the phone.

Mrs. Mosharraf has three months to contest the divorce or the marriage will be annulled.

The liaison has been the talk of Dhaka for years, but was acknowledged only after newspapers reported that at his birthday party Ershad offered the first slice of cake to Mrs. Mosharraf rather than to his wife, Raushan.

Ershad, 67, seized power in a bloodless coup in 1982 and ruled for eight years until ousted in a pro-democracy uprising.

The affair has caused a near-revolt in Ershad’s party _ his wife also is a Jatiya Party lawmaker _ and prompted some Islamic clerics to call for his and Mrs. Mosharraf’s death by stoning, a punishment for adultery in the Islamic code. Bangladesh’s law does not permit it.

Ershad said a week ago that he had ended the affair for the good of their party.