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Wilfried Martens, former Belgian premier, dies

Thursday - 10/10/2013, 4:00am  ET

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Wilfried Martens, who led nine Belgian governments and the European Union's Christian Democrat group, has died. He was 77.

Party leader Wouter Beke said Thursday Martens died overnight. He did not provide details of where and why he died, but heart problems have long affected Martens health.

Leading members of his party lauded Martens as a tireless leader to keep his nation of Dutch- and French-speakers together while giving the two linguistic regions ever more autonomy.

Martens led nine governments in the 1980s and early 1990s and proved capable of keeping the volatile factions in the nation together.

He also helped found the European People's Party and led the EU's Christian Democrat Christian group for almost two decades before asking last week to be relieved from the job.


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