Former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio Dies at 81

Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal, passed away on Friday at the age of 81. He had been hospitalized with respiratory problems since Aug. 27 in the coronary intensive care unit at Santa Cruz Hospital, Lisbon.

Following a non-religious ceremony at Lisbon’s Mosteiro dos Jeronimoson on Saturday, Sampaio will be buried in the Alto de Sao Joao Cemetery.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa lamented Sampaio’s passing and declared three days of national mourning from Saturday through Monday.

The current President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, saluted the former head of state for his fight for “freedom and equality,” noting that this will be his “double legacy.”

Sampaio was born in Lisbon in 1939, and was president for two terms, between 1996 and 2006. He was also leader of the Socialist Party and mayor of Lisbon.

During his presidency, on Dec. 20, 1999, the former Portuguese colony of Macau was returned to China through a Joint Declaration formulated after many years of negotiations and preparations.

“For Portugal, it is not just a matter of solemnly transferring the exercise of sovereignty over Macau to the People’s Republic of China. It is important for the relationships to have been a privileged place for meeting cultures and peoples, a sensible and peaceful way to pursue a new stage in the relationship,” Sampaio said at the time.

After serving as president, Sampaio was appointed in 2006 by the secretary general of the United Nations (UN) as special envoy to stop tuberculosis, and between 2007 and 2013, he was high representative of the UN for the alliance of civilizations.

He was elected as a deputy in the Portuguese Parliament in 1979 and was successively re-elected until 1991.

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Xinhua

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