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Bangladesh's Yunus Resigns From Pioneering Microlender

Employees of Grameen Bank walk in front of a portrait of Nobel laureate and bank founder Mohammad Yunus, Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 8, 2011.

Bangladesh's Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus has left the pioneering microfinance bank he founded, days after a court upheld the Bangladeshi government's decision to remove him.

Yunus said in a statement Thursday that he was stepping down to "prevent undue disruption " to Grameen Bank.

Yunus said his deputy, Nurjahan Begum, will replace him.

The Bangladesh Supreme Court rejected a final appeal by Yunus last week to remain at the helm of the bank he founded to give loans to the poor.

The government fired Yunus as the microlender's managing director in March, saying he overstayed the official retirement age of 60. Yunus is 70. His supporters believe he has been politically targeted for briefly trying to start his own political party in 2007.

Bangladesh's foreign minister recently cleared Yunus of allegations of misappropriation of funds and other financial irregularities.

Yunus' concept of microfinance is credited with helping millions of poor people in Bangladesh and other parts of the world. That work has won Yunus international acclaim and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.