DHAKA, May 24: Bangladesh's military-backed government on Thursday promoted the country's powerful army chief Moeen U Ahmed to the post of full general as part of a major upgrade of the country's armed forces, an official said.

The nation's air force chief, air Vice-Marshall A.S.M Ziaur Rahman, was made Air Marshall while navy chief Rear Admiral Sarwar Jahan Nizam was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral, an armed forces official said.

“This is the first time the ranks of the country's three armed forces chiefs have been upgraded. The army chief has been made a general. Previously all army chiefs held the rank of lieutenant general,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.The promotions would be effective from Saturday, he added.

Bangladesh's army has about 140,000 troops, some 60,000 of which were deployed across the country in January when the country's president imposed a state of emergency and cancelled elections.

The army is widely seen as having engineered the events in January that also led to President Iajuddin Ahmed quitting as head of the interim administration and appointing a military-backed government.

The new government vowed to clean up politics and carry out a series of reforms before elections are held. The government last month said polls would be held at the end of 2008.

Top army generals were also made heads of government bodies while mid-ranking officers were included in decision-making bodies in district administrations as part of the upgrade.

The promotions came just a day after General Moeen told journalists that the army had no intention of imposing martial law and that the military had begun winding up camps set up when the state of emergency was imposed.—AFP

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