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Councillor will be Lord Mayor twice
LAST year he became Oxford’s first non-white Lord Mayor and now city councillor Mohammed Abbasi is one of another select group.
The 72-year-old Labour city councillor has been selected to become Oxford’s first citizen for 2014/15.
He will be only the second person to be Lord Mayor twice, after he served in the role for two months when city councillor Alan Armitage quit last March.
Mr Abbasi said: “It is a great honour to be the first citizen of Oxford. The city means everything to me.
“I have been to other places around the country but for me Oxford is the best place.”
He came to the UK from Pakistan in 1963 and worked as an engineer for GPO Telephones.
He became Oxford’s first Muslim councillor in 2002 and – apart from a two-year gap – has served on the council ever since.
In 2013 Lib Dem councillor Mr Armitage, who has since left the city council, stood down over “inappropriate” comments made to a schoolgirl in 2012. Mr Abbasi, then deputy Lord Mayor, replaced him for two months.
The only other person to serve twice as Lord Mayor was Olive Gibbs, who served in 1974/75, and again in 1981/82 after the incumbent Henry Nimmo died in office.
Mr Abbasi will have to be formally ratified later this year but in May has to win re-election in his Cowley Marsh ward.
The father of eight said: “First I have got to get myself elected so we will see how it goes. When I was originally elected I was the first Muslim councillor and it was a great honour to be the first non-white Lord Mayor in Oxford’s history.
“This will be another record that I will be the first non-white person who has been elected as Lord Mayor twice.
“I became a councillor because I wanted to get involved. I have been a member of the Labour Party for 30 years.”
Green councillor Craig Simmons is expected to serve as his deputy with Labour’s Rae Humberstone as Sheriff of Oxford.
When Lord Mayor last year, Mr Abbasi caused a minor diplomatic incident by attending the opening of the Free West Papua Campaign’s offices in Cowley Road.
The campaign wants independence from Indonesia whose foreign minister Marty Natalegawa asked whether the Lord Mayor’s presence meant the UK backed the campaigners.
Britain’s ambassador to Indonesia was asked to clarify the UK’s position.
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