Pierre Aliker, who pressed for independence from French rule for Martinique, dies at 106

Pierre Aliker, a politician who fought for independence from French rule for his native Caribbean island of Martinique for over half a century, has died at age 106.

Aliker was a close ally of the late anti-colonial writer Aime Cesaire and spoke poignantly at his 2008 funeral.

Aliker and Cesaire founded Martinique's Progressive Party in 1958, which sought autonomy or "departmentalization" for the island, though not total sovereignty from the French state. Aliker was Cesaire's deputy as mayor in capital, Fort-de-France, for over 40 years.

Martinique, however, remains a French overseas department. Politicians who favor independence for the island have been critical that Aliker's position did not go far enough.

In a statement, France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault spoke of his "emotion" at Aliker's death on Thursday.