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Ex-French president Jacques Chirac dies

SUFFERED A STROKE—Chirac

Former French president, Jacques Chirac, has died “peacefully” at the age of 86, his family said.

The conservative politician led France between 1995 and 2007, despite suffering a stroke while in office.

The veteran politician “died this morning surrounded by his family, peacefully,” his son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux told AFP news agency.

Chirac served as mayor of Paris and had two stints as prime minister before taking the highest office in 1995 to 2007.

Chirac’s health was troubled ever since a 2005 stroke he suffered while still in office.

Chirac was long the standard-bearer of France’s conservative right and mayor of Paris for nearly two decades.

He is also said to have showed courage and statesmanship during his presidency.

In what may have been his finest hour, he crushed the myth of France’s innocence in the persecution of Jews during World War Two.

He said on 16 July 2005: “Yes, the criminal folly of the occupiers was seconded by the French, by the French state.

“France, the land of the enlightenment and human rights… delivered those it protects to their executioners.”

Chirac also embraced European unity, calling it an “art”, and raged at the French ahead of their “no” vote in a 2005 referendum on the European constitution meant to fortify the European Union.

He said: “If you want to shoot yourself in the foot, do it, but after don’t complain.

“It’s stupid, I’m telling you.”

Chirac was personally and politically humiliated by the defeat.

His popularity didn’t fully recover until after he left office in 2007, handing power to protege-turned-rival Nicolas Sarkozy.

Chirac ultimately became one of the French’s favourite political figures, often praised for his down-to-earth human touch rather than his political achievements.

In his 40 years in public life, he was derided by critics as opportunistic and impulsive.— DW/Sky News

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