Former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, a socialist who later held several posts at the United Nations, died on Friday at the age of 81 in Lisbon
Mr Sampaio, secretary general of the Socialist Party, mayor of Lisbon and then between 1996 and 2006, head of state, suffered from heart problems and had been hospitalized since the end of August.
Born into a bourgeois family in Lisbon in 1939, he entered politics while studying law as one of the university leaders in 1962 strikes against the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar (1932-1968). After becoming a lawyer, he defended several political prisoners.
In 1978, four years after the Carnation Revolution that ended the dictatorship, Jorge Sampaio joined the Socialist Party led by Mario Soares (1986-1996), his predecessor as President of the Republic, was founded.
A longtime MP, he became party secretary general in 1989 and in the same year won Lisbon city hall with the support of the Communists.
Defeated in the 1991 legislative elections, he retaliated by running in 1996 by winning the presidential election in the first round against his right-wing rival Anibal Cavaco Silva, who succeeded him as president (2006-2016).
At the end of his second term, Sampaio became Special Envoy for the United Nations’ Stop TB Initiative at the age of 66. Subsequently, he served as a high representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, which aims to promote initiatives to overcome misunderstandings between cultures and religions.
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