Former US President GERALD FORD has died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California after suffering a string of health problems. He was 93.

Ford, who last month (NOV06) took over from RONALD REAGAN as the longest-living US president, was the only American leader to take office without being elected. He took over after RICHARD NIXON resigned over the Watergate scandal in 1974 but lost to JIMMY CARTER in 1976. Ford was admitted to hospital on numerous occasions in recent months for tests and an angioplasty. He also suffered a stroke in 2000.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH has paid tribute to Ford, a fellow Republican, praising his sincerity in power. He says, "With his quiet integrity, common sense and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency. "Our 38th president will always have a special place in our nation's memory."

A statement from his widow BETTY FORD said last night (26DEC06), "My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, has passed away at 93 years of age." The statement did not give the cause of death.

Copyright 2006 WENN

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