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Esmael Kiram, Sultan of Sulu, dies

Sulu Sultan Esmael Kiram II died of kidney failure last Saturday and his younger brother, Datu Rajah Mudah Phugdal Kiram, has been named his successor.

“He passed away last night at 6 p.m. at the Zamboanga Peninsula Hospital because of a kidney problem,” sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said Sunday in a phone interview.

He said Kiram’s health started to deteriorate two months ago after he suffered at least three successive strokes.

“His remains will be transported to Maiming, Sulu, where he will be interred in the ancestral graveyard of the Kiram family,” Idjirani said.

The sultan was born on Nov. 9, 1939 in Maimbung, Sulu and ascended to the throne on March 12, 2001.

The sultan was 76 and his brother-successor is 72.

“Datu Rajah Mudah Phugdal Kiram will be formally announced as the rightful successor of the late Sultan after the burial,” Idjirani said.

Idjirani said the Kiram’s brother is a public school teacher who holds a degree of Bachelor of Science in education.

“He taught in elementary schools until his retirement. He was also a professional referee in the Basketball Association of the Philippines,” Idjirani said.

Idjirani said the late sultan had refused to be taken to the hospital but his family insisted on it.

Kiram’s brother Rajah Muda Agbimudin Kiram led 100 fighters of the sultanate’s Royal Security Force who were mostly killed in the March 2013 attack in Lahad Datu, Malaysia.

Kiram succeeded his brother Ismail Kiram III who died in October 2013 at the height of the Sabah standoff.

Rajah Muda along with 300 fighters of the RSF sailed to Lahad Datu from Simulul Island in Tawi-Tawi on the eve of Feb. 11, 2013 to assert the sultanate’s territorial claim over Sabah.

Hostilities broke out after Malaysian military and police forces engaged RSF forces in running gun battles in Tanduo village in Lahad Datu.

After nearly a month of fighting, at least 101 RSF forces were killed while Rajah Muda survived and returned to Sulu, where he died.

Kiram’s daughter, Princess Jacel Kiram, who is married to an Army major, is reportedly being considered for a slot in for a Senate ticket of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

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