Hussein Husseini, Lebanon's former parliament speaker and the father of the 1989 Taif Agreement that ended the country's 15-year civil war, died Wednesday after days of illness. He was 85.
Husseini was admitted to Beirut's American University Medical Center on Jan. 3, after suffering from a strong flu, the state-run National News Agency said. NNA added that Husseini remained in the intensive care unit until his death on Wednesday morning.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati declared a three-day mourning period in the crisis-hit Lebanon while Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri postponed a session that was scheduled to take place on Thursday to elect a new president.
"Today Lebanon has lost an authentic national and constitutional stature," Mikati said, adding that "al-Husseini's presence constituted a milestone in the history of parliamentary work in Lebanon."
Husseini was elected to parliament representing the northeastern Baalbek-Hermel region in 1972 and remained a legislator until 2008. He was elected as parliament speaker in 1984, a job that he kept until 1992.
The politician was a harsh critic of Lebanon's sectarian-based political system that divided top posts in the country of 5 million between Christian and Muslim communities. Husseini was also a strong vocal opponent of the country's financial policies, including heavy borrowing, that started in the 1990s and eventually led to Lebanon's ongoing three-year economic meltdown.