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Africa
Ex-Rhodesian leader Ian Smith dies
The former prime minister fought against black rule in what is now Zimbabwe.
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2007 17:01 GMT

Smith imprisoned Mugabe when in power and remained a vocal opponent to his rule [EPA]

Ian Smith, the former leader of white-ruled Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, has died in South Africa aged 88, a family friend said.

 

He remained prime minister until a guerrilla war forced him to accept a ceasefire and political settlement in 1979.

 

Elections were held the following year, when

Smith died on Tuesday at a clinic near the South African city of Cape Town, where he spent his final years, according to long-time friend Sam Whaley.

He had been ailing for some time and recently suffered a stroke.

Symbol

To many white Rhodesians, he was a kind of idol, but for most blacks, his rule symbolised the worst of racial oppression.

In video

Al Jazeera looks back
at Ian Smith's life

A former Royal Air Force pilot, he fought for Britain in the second world war, then rebelled against it 20 years later.

Smith imprisoned Mugabe, Zimbabwe's current president, in 1964 for 10 years, calling him a "terrorist" intent on turning the country into a one-party dictatorship.

"We have never had such chaos and corruption in our country," Smith said during a brief return to politics in 2000.

"What Zimbabweans are looking for is a bit of ordinary honesty and straightforwardness."

Source:
Agencies
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