Portugal pay last respects to father of modern democracy Mário Soares
Widely considered as the father of modern-day democracy in his country, former Portugal’s President Mário Soares died on Saturday 7 January 2017 at the Red Cross Hospital in Lisbon at the age of 92. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.
Born on 7 December 1924, Mário Soares was a historian, lawyer and professor. Founder of Portugal's Socialist party, Mário Soares headed Portugal's first democratically elected government in 1976, after the 1974 military coup. He, thus, served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1976 to 1978 and from 1983 to 1985. He was the President for two consecutive 5-year terms from 1986 to 1996.
Mário Soares was admitted on December 13 when he showed "signs of general aggravation of his state of health". Portugal has declared three days of national mourning from Monday, after the passing of the former Socialist President Mário Soares, announced Prime Minister Antonio Costa. "We have lost today the one who has so often been the face and voice of our freedom, for which he has fought all his life," he said from New Delhi where he is on an official visit. "To lose Mário Soares is to lose someone irreplaceable in our recent History", said the head of the socialist government, regretting not being able to attend the State funeral on 9 January 2017 in Lisbon.
Mário Soares’ death triggered a wave of emotion in the country, and the national flag was lowered at the Assembly of the Republic in Lisbon. "It was a fighter for freedom" and Portugal must now fight for "the immortality of his heritage," commented, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a conservative. "I'm sure it's a sad day for all the Portuguese. He is one of the founders of the democratic regime in which we live today, "said center-right opposition leader Pedro Passos Coelho.
Mário Soares is survived by his son, João, and daughter, Isabel whereas his wife, the actor Maria Barroso, whom he married in prison in 1949, passed away in 2015.