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Adolfo Suárez, first Spanish prime minister after Franco, dies at 81

Mr. Suárez (left) aided his deputy prime minister, Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, during a short-lived coup attempt in 1981.
Mr. Suárez (left) aided his deputy prime minister, Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, during a short-lived coup attempt in 1981.Manuel Hernandez de Leon/EPA/file

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MADRID — Adolfo Suárez, Spain’s first prime minister after the Franco dictatorship and a key figure in the country’s transition back to democracy, died Sunday. He was 81.

A lawyer by training, Mr. Suárez led a new generation of Spanish politicians who filled the power vacuum left by the death of General Francisco Franco in late 1975.

The government announced three days of official mourning and said that Mr. Suárez would receive a state funeral. In a televised address on Sunday, King Juan Carlos called Mr. Suárez “a loyal friend” who had helped lead the country back to democracy, calling it “one of the most brilliant chapters in Spanish history.”

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