Singapore mourns the death of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

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Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore who guided its development into a modern, stable nation as well as one of the world’s richest, has died, the government announced.

Lee, 91, had been hospitalized since Feb. 5 for pneumonia and recently had been on life support. He “passed away peacefully” early Monday, the prime minister’s office said.

Lee led Singapore from 1959 to 1990 and remained a member of parliament after leaving the office of prime minister. His son, Lee Hsien Loong, is Singapore’s third and current prime minster, and the small nation is celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence this year.

President Obama hailed Lee as “a true giant of history” and “one of the treat strategists of Asian affairs.” Obama met Lee during his 2009 visit to Singapore.

“A visionary who led his country from Singapore’s independence in 1965 to build one of the most prosperous countries in the world today, he was a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader,” Obama said in a statement issued Sunday night by the White House.

The prime minister declared a period of mourning, from Monday to Sunday, with flags at half-staff.