The Senedd Member Mohammad Asghar, the first ethnic minority and Muslim member of the Senedd, has died at the age of 74.
Flags have been lowered at Senedd buildings and members will be able to pay their tributes during tomorrow’s virtual plenary session.
Asghar came to prominence after being elected to the Senedd in 2007 as a member of Plaid Cymru on the list for South Wales East, before moving to the Conservative party – the first member to ever switch parties.
Born in Peshawar in what is now Pakistan in 1945, Mr Asghar moved to Wales to complete an accountancy course in Newport. In 2004 he was elected to the city’s council, becoming Wales’ first Muslim councillor.
Laura Anne Jones is the next name of the South Wales East list. She was previously a member of the Senedd between 2003 and 2007.
Mohammad Asghar was taken to hospital this morning. The ambulance service arrived at his property around half-past eleven.
His daughter, Natasha later said on Twitter: “Today by far has been the worst day of my life. I lost the first man I ever loved forever.
“The man who taught me to walk, crack terrible jokes, do whatever I had to achieve my goals and do anything for one’s family. I cannot imagine life without you. I Love you.”
Welsh Conservative Senedd group leader Paul Davies called it a “devastating blow”.
“Our friend and colleague, Mohammad Asghar – known to many as ‘Oscar’ – has served the people of South Wales East in the Senedd with distinction for more than 13 years,” he said.
“Proud to be British and Welsh and proud of his roots, Oscar had friends from across the political spectrum, and made his mark on Welsh history as the first-ever BAME Member of the Senedd.
“I am sure that everyone will join me in sending condolences to his family, especially his wife Firdaus and his daughter Natasha, both of whom he loved dearly, at their tragic time of loss.”
South Wales Central Conservative Senedd Member Andrew Rt Davies said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear the news.
“As a member of the Senedd since 2007, Oscar helped many, many people in South Wales East. My thoughts & condolences go to Firdaus and Natasha at this incredibly difficult time.”
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said he was “saddened to hear” of his death.
“My thoughts are with his family and friends today,” he said. “His presence in the Senedd will be missed.”
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart MP said: “Mohammad Asghar was an extremely significant figure in Welsh politics, someone who contributed so much to his community.
“More than that, he was a renowned family man & a good friend to many. He will be fondly remembered.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “On behalf of myself and Plaid Cymru I send sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mohammad Asghar.
“We remember Oscar for his dedication to the people of South Wales East and his long service in the Senedd.”
The Llywydd, Elin Jones said: “I am so saddened by the sudden death of our dear colleague, Mohammad Asghar. He will be missed by all in our Senedd. He was a friend to all across parties and was a true champion of his region and his country.”
Education Minister and Liberal Democrat Member of the Senedd Kirsty Williams said: “So very sorry to learn of the passing of Mohammad Asghar MS. Deepest sympathy to his family, friends and Welsh Conservative colleagues at the Senedd.”
At the time of his death Mr Asghar was a member of the Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee, and Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.