Jorge Sampaio death – obituary : former two-term President of Portugal 81, has died

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Jorge Sampaio death – obituary, cause of death :  Jorge Sampaio 81, former two-term president of Portugal and one of the most prominent political figures of his generation is dead.

According to report, the current President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, announced the death of Sampaio’s on Friday. He however did not speak about the actual cause of death. President Sampaio had been in delicate health for several years and had been in hospital for the past two weeks.

The former President “prepared himself to be a fighter, and the banners of his fight were freedom and equality,” Rebelo de Sousa said in a televised statement.

He said Jorge was like “a red-haired hurricane” in the 1960s as a young lawyer he stood up to Portugal’s then-dictatorship.

Six-decade of political career in Portugal as a centre-left Socialist and as a diplomat for the United Nations, Sampaio earned himself praise for his low-key played and down-to-earth manner. He once said he had always wanted to become an orchestra conductor.

Prime Minister António Costa was full of praised for Sampaio, calling him an upstanding politician who fought and defended democracy. “We bow down before the memory of a man who always fought for freedom, for democracy, and whose moral uprightness brought prestige to our country’s political life,” said Costa.

The Nation of Portugal would observe three days of national mourning. Portuguese flags on public buildings will fly at half-staff, from Saturday. Funeral details were to be announced later.

Sampaio would perhaps be best remembered for controversially bringing down a centre-right government in 2004, he was head of state.

Social Democratic Party leader José Manuel Barroso quit his position as prime minister to become president of the European Commission. He was replaced by his party’s vice president, Pedro Santana Lopes.

government in-fighting, public gaffes and contradictions, made Sampaio called early elections to end, something he called “a grave crisis of credibility and instability.”

The subsequent election delivered a landslide victory to the centre-left Socialist Party, which Sampaio once headed.

The late Sampaio began his political career while still studying law at Lisbon University in the late 50s, he rose through the ranks of underground student movements which opposed the then dictatorship of António Salazar.

After his graduation, he defended prisoners who were tried by special courts that dealt exclusively with political cases.

Jorge associated himself with extreme leftist movements after the 1974 Carnation Revolution toppled the dictatorship and introduced democracy.

He then took up his first government post, as secretary of state for foreign cooperation, in 1975. His fluency in English language was associated with his yearlong stay in the United States when he was eight as his father, who was a renowned Portuguese doctor, went to study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Pa..

His mother was an English teacher, also spent time in England as a youngster.

Jorge Sampaio switched his allegiance to the mainstream Socialist Party in 1978 and the following year was returned five times to parliament as a Socialist lawmaker.

He ran successfully for mayor of Lisbon, the capital, in 1989, when he also became leader of the Socialist Party.

He had a two-term stint as mayor of the Portuguese capital, which provided a stage for his election as president in 1996 and his re-election in 2001, winning both elections by comfortable margins.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Sampaio as his special envoy on tuberculosis in 2006 and Annan’s successor Ban Ki-moon made him the U.N. High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.

Sampaio is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.