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Iraq ex-president and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani dead

04 October 2017

Veteran Kurdish leader and former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has died in Germany aged 83, the media reported on Tuesday.

Talabani, who suffered a stroke, was admitted to a hospital in Germany after his health was deteriorated recently, and he passed away in the hospital, the state-run Iraqiya channel said. He lived in Sulaymaniyah, a stronghold of his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the main rival of Kurdish President Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Apart from his native Kurdish language, Talabani is fluent in Arabic, Persian, and English.

Two years after Hussein was deposed by the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Talabani was elected president by the transitional national assembly. But despite his long history of promoting the Kurdish cause before he took office, once installed as president he was regarded as a vital mediator between Iraq's fractious Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish communities. Talabani was elected in 2005 and was forced to retire in 2014 in order to focus on his health after suffering from a stroke.

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Talabani's death comes a week after Iraqi Kurds voted to secede from Iraq in a controversial referendum.

One of Talabani's sons, Qubad, is the current deputy prime minister of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Iraq ex-president and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani dead