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Former Portuguese President, Ousted in 1974 Coup, Dead at 92

September 18, 1987

CASCAIS, Portugal (AP) _ Adm. Americo de Deus Rodrigues Tomas, who was hand-picked as president by Portugal’s late dictator Antonio Salazar and ousted in a 1974 leftist military coup, died early today at 92.

Tomas, an ultra-conservative and staunch supporter of colonial wars, died at his home in this seaside resort outside Lisbon.

″Americo Tomas died in bed in the early morning hours today, with his family at his side,″ a friend of the family, Francisco Leite Pinto, told The Associated Press in a telephone call to the late president’s home. The cause of death was not immediately released.

Tomas had reached the post of navy minister when he was chosen to seek the office of president in 1958 by Salazar, who ran the country from 1932 till 1968 as prime minister.

Although Tomas was elected in that race, a liberal army general, Humberto Delgado, polled a strong 25 percent in the balloting, leading Salazar to abolish direct elections and ″re-elect″ Tomas in indirect electoral college polls in 1965 and 1972.

After a quiet career as titular head of state under Salazar, Tomas became increasingly outspoken in opposing liberalization policies proposed by Marcello Caetano, who succeeded Salazar after the dictator was incapacitated in a fall in 1968. Salazar died two years later.

Tomas strongly supported colonial wars begun in 1961 in Angola and Mozambique and managed to brake reforms Caetano sought in the one-party state due in part to the secret police Salazar set up decades earlier.

Political repression at home and national anger over the endless colonial wars prompted the secret formation in 1973 of the Armed Forces Movement, a group of leftist career military men determined to bring an end to the Salazar-Caetano regime.

On April 25, 1974, the movement staged a pre-dawn coup. Tomas and Caetano were arrested and shipped off to Madeira, Portugal’s mid-Atlantic island off the coast of Morocco, before being exiled to Brazil.

Tomas returned home in 1978, and Caetano died in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in October 1980 at 74.

Leite Pinto said funeral services would be held Saturday at Cascais Parochial Church, and that he would then be buried at Ajuda cemetery in Lisbon, 19 miles to the east.