Former Iraqi president and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani died at age 83 today, Iraqi state TV said, a week after Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region held a referendum on independence. Talabani, a veteran leader of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination, stepped down as president in 2014, after a long period of treatment following a stroke in 2012.
He died in Germany, according to Erbil-based Rudaw TV, which reported earlier in the day that his health had deteriorated. He often went to Germany for medical treatment. Talabani was born near Erbil, now the seat of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq in 1933. 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).
He was the first non-Arab president of Iraq, elected in 2005, two years after the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Fuad Masoum, a Kurd from the PUK, replaced Talabani in the Iraqi presidency, a largely ceremonial post in the political system established after Saddam’s overthrow that concentrates power in the hand of the prime minister, now Haider Al-Abadi, an Arab Shia Muslim. One of Talabani’s sons, Qubad, is the current deputy prime minister of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
Source : MiddleEastMonitor