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Palestine leader Yasser Arafat, 75, is no more
November 11, 2004 10:18 IST
Last Updated: November 11, 2004 18:12 IST
Yasser Arafat, the enduring symbol of Palestinian nationalism for four decades, died in a French hospital on Thursday, plunging the Middle East peace process into uncertainty.
The 75-year-old president of the Palestinian Authority, who was admitted to the Percy military hospital outside Paris in a serious condition on October 29, slipped into a coma a few days ago.
The 1994 Nobel peace prize winner is survived by his wife Suha and a daughter.
"Our president, our leader, the holder of the flag to the new future, brother Yasser Arafat, passed away this morning," Tayed Abdel Rahim, the head of the Palestinian leader's office, told reporters outside the PA headquarters.
The body of the Palestinian leader will be flown on Friday to the Egyptian capital Cairo, where he was born and studied for several years, for a military funeral.
Funeral prayers followed by a ceremony to be attended by world leaders will be held at Faisal mosque near Cairo's international airport.
India will be represented by a high-level delegation including the ruling Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi.
Arafat's body will then be taken for burial in the premises of his headquarters in Ramallah, where he had been kept under house arrest by Israel for the last three years.
Arafat's special bond with New Delhi dates back to 1975 when India became the first non-Arab nation to recognise Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
The Palestinian leader visited India on several occasions and had a personal equation with many Indian leaders. Arafat, who had described India as a consistent supporter of the Palestinian cause, was conferred with the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Peace and Understanding in 1988.
Palestine parliament speaker Rawhi Fattuh will be the caretaker leader of the Palestinian Authority for 60 days, after which elections will be held.
The PLO executive committee unanimously elected former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas as its leader. PLO's Tunis-based politburo chief, Faruq Qaddumi, has been named head of the Fatah faction.
Prime Minister Ahmad Qorei will continue to head the government.