Former Portuguese President Soares dead

Lisbon, Jan 8 (IANS) Former Portuguese President Mario Soares has died here at the age of 92, it was announced on Sunday.

Soares was admitted to a hospital in Lisbon two weeks ago where he died on Saturday of respiratory complications, Xinhua news agency reported.

The respiratory complications had left him in a deep coma at the Red Cross hospital in Lisbon since December 13 last year.

Sores was widely known in Portugal as one of the founding fathers of the country’s democracy after a bloodless coup on April 25, 1974, which overthrew the dictatorship of Oliveira Salazar.

He served as President from 1986 to 1996 and Prime Minister from 1976 to 1978 and from 1983 to 1985.

He also served as Foreign Minister and an MP of the European Parliament.

During his stint as Foreign Minister, he negotiated the Portuguese entry in what is today the European Union.

Born on Dec 7, 1924, in Lisbon, Soares was a law graduate at Lisbon University and later became a lawyer.

He was one of the founders and the first leader of the currently ruling Socialist Party headed by Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

Prime Minster Costa has declared a three-day national mourning from Monday for Soares.

“Today we lost the one who was so often the face and the voice of our freedom. Mario Soares was a man who throughout his life fought for freedom, he did it against the dictatorship, suffering prison, deportation and exile,” Costa said.

“The loss of Mario Soares is the loss of someone who would have been irreplaceable in our recent history. We owe him a lot and we will remain forever eternally grateful,” he added.

A state funeral for Soares will be held in Lisbon on Tuesday.

Costa, who is on an official visit to India, will be absent from the funeral, but he has sent his condolences to Soares’ family.