The first democratically elected president of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov, has died in Skopje. He was 94 years old.
Gligorov died in his sleep Sunday night, surrounded by his family.
Once a top communist official, he became president of Macedonia in 1991 when it was still part of Yugoslavia. He peacefully led the country to independence, avoiding the wars that raged in other Yugoslav republics.
Under Gligorov's guidance, Macedonia joined the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - a concession to neighboring Greece, which sees the use of the name Macedonia as laying future territorial claims to its own northern province of Macedonia. The dispute continues to this day.
Gligorov was seriously injured in a 1995 assassination attempt, suffering head injuries and losing an eye in a car bomb explosion. No suspects were ever arrested, but he continued his presidency until his term ended in 1999, becoming the world's oldest head of state. He later became a respected author.
A private family funeral will take place in Skopje on Tuesday. Gligorov is survived by a son and two daughters.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.