Former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has passed away at the age of 83, Al Jazeera reported Tuesday. The Kurdish politician served as head of state from 2005 to 2014, one of the longest terms served in Iraq's recent history, but had suffered a stroke in 2012. He was "the only president whose death saddens Arabs, Kurds, and all other ethnicities," said Iraqi Kurdish politician Zana Said.
A member of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and later the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Talabani supported various Kurdish uprisings against the Iraqi government before becoming president after the first free elections in Iraq's history. He was Iraq's first non-Arab president and while in office, he oversaw the creation of a new constitution that designated Kurdistan as an autonomous federal region.
Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence in a referendum held last week.