Jonathan Motzfeldt is considered one of the founding fathers of Greenland's… (Amdi Thorkild, Associated…)
Jonathan Motzfeldt, 72, a former premier of Greenland who spearheaded a drive for more self-rule and opposed U.S. bases on the semiautonomous Danish territory, died of a brain hemorrhage Thursday at Queen Ingrid Hospital in Nuuk, Greenland, the local government announced.
Motzfeldt led the Arctic island's government from 1979 to 1991 and again from 1997 to 2002, and is considered one of the founding fathers of its home rule agreement with Denmark.
Motzfeldt was born in Qassimiut on the southern tip of Greenland on Sept. 25, 1938, the son of a seal hunter. He first trained to become a teacher before earning a theology degree from the University of Copenhagen in 1966 and becoming an ordained Lutheran minister.
As a member of the social democratic Siumut party representing mostly an Inuit base, he became Greenland's first government leader after home rule was introduced in 1979.
Motzfeldt left politics in the early 1990s because of alcohol-related issues but later returned.
In 2002, he lost an internal party struggle to fellow Siumut Hans Enoksen, who replaced him as premier. Motzfeldt then became speaker of Greenland's Parliament, but resigned in 2008 amid allegations that he groped a female civil servant. He denied wrongdoing and was never charged.
As premier, he opposed a 1951 defense agreement between the United States and NATO-member Denmark allowing four U.S. Air Force bases on Greenland. All except the U.S. Air Force base in Thule, northern Greenland, have since been shut down.
Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, who since 1948 had ruled Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates, died Wednesday, the official news agency WAM reported, without announcing the cause. He was 92.
—Times wire reports