BEIRUT (UPI–Reuters–Aztag)–Khatchik Babikian–a Lebanese parliamentarian since 1957 and a former government minister–died Thursday at the age of 75.
A parliamentary statement said Babikian–died at a Beirut hospital after a long battle with cancer.
The statement said plans for his burial were to be announced later.
Babikian was first elected to parliament in 1957 and remained in his post until his death. He was described as an independent parliamentarian. He held several ministerial posts from 1960 to 1992–including the portfolios of administrative reforms–health–tourism–information and justice.
Among numerous cabinet posts–he was the first minister of administrative reform in 1960 and in 1972 became Lebanon’s first Armenian minister of information.
On several occasions–Babikian represented the Lebanese president at international forums and was the vice-president of the inter-parliamentary council of French-speaking countries.
He was an active member of the Lebanese-Armenian community and was an influential figure in addressing the Armenian community’s concerns during the Lebanese civil war.
Babikian also served on the Central Executive Council of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia and pursued the Armenian Cause at numerous international meetings and gatherings.
Babikian–a prominent lawyer–was born in Cyprus on Oct. 5–1924 as his family was preparing to head to France years after fleeing the Genocide. He lived in Paris for some time before he settled in Lebanon.
In line with the Constitution–by-elections should be called to fill his vacant post as his death occurred more than six months before the parliament term ends this summer.
Babikian is survived by his wife and five daughters.