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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 23:56 GMT
Mourning begins for Yemen speaker
Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar (May 2003)
Mr Ahmar was said to be the second most powerful person in Yemen
The authorities in Yemen have declared three days of mourning for the speaker of parliament, Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar, who has died of cancer.

The 74-year-old was the leader of the main Islamist opposition party, the Yemeni Alliance for Reform, or Islah.

He also headed North Yemen's powerful Hashid tribal confederation, to which President Ali Abdullah Saleh belongs.

Mr Ahmar played a key role in Yemeni politics, both before and after the north and south's unification in 1990.

He was elected the first speaker of the Republic of Yemen's lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, in 1993, and re-appointed in 1997, 2003 and 2007.

Correspondents say that after President Saleh, Mr Ahmar was considered the second most powerful person in Yemen. The president and many others in the government were members of the Hashid tribe.

Officials said Mr Ahmar died on Saturday morning at the King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after a long fight with cancer.

He will be buried in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on Monday.

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