Iraq’s 1st non-Arab president, Jalal Talabani, dies in Germany

Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq

Baghdad ( Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani died in a Germany hospital on Tuesday after a period of health deterioration, according to Iraq’s State TV.

He suffered a stroke in 2012 which kept him out of politics, but returned back in 2014. In September, he flew to Germany for medical testing.

Talabani was born in 1933 near Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region.  A former secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of Kurdistan’s largest political group, Talabani was elected in 2005, following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as the country’s first non-Arab president. He stepped down in 2014.

Talabani was one of Kurdistan’s pro-independence figures, and his death comes as the region has recently held a referendum on independence from Iraq which was voted positively by 92 of voters.

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