Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Bangladesh's top court Tuesday upheld the central bank's decision to remove Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus from his post at the pioneering bank he founded.
The High Court rejected Yunus' petition to remain as managing director of Grameen Bank, which he founded nearly three decades ago in an effort to alleviate poverty.
The central bank of Bangladesh, the regulatory authority in the South Asian nation, removed Yunus as Grameen's managing director because it asserted he was past retirement age. The government, which has a 25% stake in Grameen, said that by the bank's own rules, Yunus, now 70, was required to end his service when he turned 60.
Yunus vowed to fight his removal.
"We'll go to the appellate court against the order," said Rokanuddin Mahmud, one of his attorneys.
Another member of his legal team, Sara Hossain, said the High Court's order was "disappointing."
"Yunus is a very respectable man and he founded the Grameen Bank which has earned the country prestige," she said.
Grameen cast a global spotlight on microcredit, a then-novel idea of making small loans to the poor who would otherwise not qualify for standard bank loans. For their efforts, Yunus and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Yunus' supporters have said the government's effort to remove him has little to do with age and much to do with opposition to microcredit and Grameen's execution of it. Critics of microcredit have charged that lenders were making big money off of small loans.
Others have suggested that the actions against Yunus are politically motivated, a claim denied by the government. Yunus' supporters say he has been under fire for criticizing politicians and trying to form his own political party four years ago during an interim, unelected military-backed government. That party was later abandoned.
Ashraful Islam, general secretary of the ruling Awami League party, told reporters after the court order that the government wanted to resolve the issue "sympathetically," but Yunus had obstructed the process by going to the court.
Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister and now opposition leader in parliament, lashed out at the government for going after its only Nobel laureate.
"The move was designed to belittle Yunus, who had earned prestige for the country," she said.
In a statement issued Monday night, Yunus said he strongly believed Grameen would continue to work to empower the poor, especially women in rural areas.
"Opportunity has to be created to hand over the charge of Grameen Bank in a happy environment so that it could achieve its objectives. I am continuing the effort and it will go on until getting friendly cooperation from all," Yunus said.