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Anti-Iraq invasion French president dies

by BBC
26 Sep 2019 at 16:23hrs | Views
Jacques Chirac, the French president who led his country into Europe's common currency and spearheaded international opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, died on Thursday. He was 86.

"President Jacques Chirac died this morning surrounded by his family, peacefully," his son-in-law told AFP.

Mr Chirac served two terms as French president and took his country into the single European currency.

The French National Assembly has observed a minute's silence in homage to him.

The president of the European Commission and former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker has said he was "moved and devastated" to learn the news.

"Europe is not only losing a great statesman, but the president is losing a great friend," his spokeswoman quoted Mr Juncker as saying.

Corruption conviction

One of Mr Chirac's major political reforms was to cut the presidential term of office from seven to five years.

He was seen as the focus of opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He served as head of state from 1995 to 2007, with his health steadily deteriorating since then.

He also served as the French prime minister, but was beset by a series of corruption scandals.

In 2011 he was convicted of diverting public funds, relating to his time as mayor of Paris.

He suffered a stroke in 2005, and in 2014, his wife, Bernadette, said he would no longer speak in public, noting he had memory trouble, French media report.

He was France's second longest-serving post-war president after his Socialist predecessor Francois Mitterrand.

He moved from anti-European Gaullism to championing a European Union constitution that was then rejected by French voters.

He was born in 1932, the son of a bank manager who later became the managing director of the Dassault aircraft company.

Source - BBC