WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Sunday expressed "deep concern" about the Bangladeshi government's latest move against the Grameen Bank headquartered in Dhaka,urging the South Asian nation to respect the independence of the microlender reputed as "the bank for the poor."
"The United States is deeply concerned about recent actions the government of Bangladesh has taken to give the government- appointed chairman of the Grameen Bank Board control over the selection of the bank's new managing director," U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's cabinet approved a proposed law change on Thursday to give the chairman the new power, which until now rests with the bank's board of directors. The majority of the board members are supporters of Mohammad Yunus, the founder of the bank who was removed from the post of managing director in March last year.
"This move would diminish the role the largely female borrower- shareholders play in shaping the direction of an institution that has made a difference to millions of impoverished women in Bangladesh, and indeed around the world," Ventrell said.
"We are concerned that the latest actions by the government could threaten the future of the bank," he added, calling on the government of Bangladesh to "respect the integrity, effectiveness and independence of Grameen Bank."
Yunus, a 71-year-old economist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 with the bank he founded in 1983 to offer small loans to the poor, is said to be the victim of a political vendetta for his 2007 initiative to form his own political party.
Yunus lost his final legal battle in May last year against a High Court judgment who said the micro-credit pioneer's service as the bank managing director since 1999 was illegal as he was then beyond the retirement age of 60.
During her visit to Dhaka in May, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Prime Minister Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni not to take any action that would undermine the Grameen Bank.