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Former French president Jacques Chirac dies at 86

The former French president Jacques Chirac, who had one of the longest political careers in Europe, has died aged 86.

He had suffered from memory loss for several years said to be linked to a form of Alzheimer’s disease or to the minor stroke that he had while in office.

Chirac, who was head of state from 1995 to 2007, boasted one of the longest continuous political careers in Europe, twice president, twice prime minister and 18 years as mayor of Paris.

Chirac will be remembered internationally for leading France’s strong opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, when approval ratings for his anti-war stance in France soared to 90%.

In 15 December 2011, the Paris court declared Chirac guilty of diverting public funds and abusing public confidence, and gave him a two-year suspended prison sentence.

He had a visceral need to reach out and touch people, whether it was hugging an elderly voter or flamboyantly kissing the hand of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

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