Habib Bourguiba, 96, Tunisia's former president who...

Deaths Elsewhere

April 08, 2000

Habib Bourguiba, 96, Tunisia's former president who fought for his country's independence and bucked Muslim traditions during three decades as the benign and forward-looking dictator, died Thursday.

Mr. Bourguiba was deposed in a 1987 palace coup. For more than 30 years, he modernized his nation while retaining the respect of much of the Arab world. Since 1987, after being toppled by then-Prime Minister Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the former president had lived in the shadows.

Despite the solitude of his final years, Tunisia has stayed the course Mr. Bourguiba set after the small North African nation gained independence from France in 1956. Moderation, modernization and pro-Western paths remain hallmarks of Tunisia.

Mr. Bourguiba founded a nationalist movement in the 1930s dedicated to ending colonial rule. He spent more than 11 years in French prisons on sedition charges.

Willard J. Smith, 89, an admiral and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, died April 1.

Admiral Smith served as commandant from July 1966 until his retirement in June 1970. In 1967, he oversaw the Coast Guard's transition from the Treasury Department to the Department of Transportation.

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