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Day of Mourning Announced for Former President Mohammad Daoud

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has announced a day of mourning for former President and Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud on March 17, 2009. Flags will be flown at half-mast and Afghan diplomatic missions around the world will host condolence ceremonies for the man credited with turning Afghanistan into a republic.

President Daoud was born in Kabul in 1909 and first came to power in Afghanistan in 1953, when he assumed the position of Prime Minister in the government of King Mohammed Zahir Shah. During his tenure he focused on the expansion and modernization of the country's armed forces while also strengthening Afghanistan’s infrastructure, particularly dams and roads, and expanding modern education in order to train personnel for state institutions.

In 1973 he established Afghanistan's first republic, in which he served as president. A progressive and visionary leader, President Daoud sought to modernize Afghanistan and grant additional rights to women.

On April 28, 1978 President Daoud, 17 family members and a number of senior officials in his government were assassinated during a coup d'état and buried in a mass grave in eastern Kabul. His assassination led to months of instability and violence, capped off by the Soviet invasion in 1979.

The location of the burial place unbeknownst to all but a tiny number of people, investigators only uncovered the mass grave in June 2008 and successfully identified his remains in December 2008. In proper recognition and respect of his role in contemporary Afghan history and development, he was to be properly reburied and memorialized on March 17.

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. will host a book of condolences signing for President Daoud on March 17. In a statement, Ambassador Said T. Jawad commemorated President Daoud and his role in Afghanistan's history and development. "President Daoud's vision for a modern and democratic Afghanistan places him amongst the highest echelon of the country’s heroes and guiding forces," he said. "His death remains a tragedy that Afghans will always mourn, though we can now bring closure to this chapter of our history and work towards what President Daoud wanted for Afghanistan – peace, pluralism and prosperity."

A prayer service for the Afghan community will be held on Sunday, March 22 from 2-4 p.m. at the Mustafa Center, which is located at 6844 Braddock Road in Annandale, Virginia.

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