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Former Croatian PM Racan Dies

Former Croatian prime minister Ivica Racan has died of kidney cancer at the age of 63.

A spokeswoman for his opposition Social Democratic Party says Mr. Racan died before dawn Sunday in a clinic in Zagreb.

During his tenure as prime minister from 2000 to 2003, Mr. Racan reformed Croatia's Communist Party into a Western-style social democratic movement after Croatia proclaimed independence from Belgrade in the 1990s.

He is credited with improving Croatia's post-war image, and ending international isolation after years of autocratic rule by the late nationalist president, Franjo Tudjman.

Mr. Racan's death could be a blow to the Social Democrats, who ranked second in most opinion polls ahead of the general election later this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.