Skopje (Macedonia): Kiro Gligorov, the first democratically elected President of Macedonia who served two terms at the helm of the country in the 1990s as it became independent from Yugoslavia, has died.

The head of Gligorov's office, Zivko Kondev, said on Monday that the 94-year-old former President died in his sleep at his home in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, on Sunday evening.

Gligorov became President of Macedonia in January 1991, when it was still a Yugoslav republic.

He led his countrymen through a referendum, in which they voted for independence. The territory of 2.1 million people became the only republic to secede from Yugoslavia without a war.

Gligorov suffered head injuries and lost an eye during an assassination attempt in October 1995 when a bomb blast targeted his car as he headed to work in Skopje.

His driver and a bystander were killed. The President spent several months in the hospital, emerging with a lifelong deep scar above his right eye.

No suspects were ever arrested for the bombing, and the investigation into the attempted assassination has made little headway in the intervening years.

Born in the central Macedonian town of Shtip on May 3, 1917, Gligorov served two consecutive presidential terms, leading the nation from January 1991 to November 1999.

(Agencies)