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SKOPJE, January 2 (Itar-Tass) —— Macedonia’s first democratically elected President Kiro Gligorov has died at the age of 94.
The former head of state died in his home on Sunday evening, January 1, his representative said on Monday, January 2.
Gligorov became president on January 27, 1991 when the republic was still a part of Yugoslavia, and stayed in office until November 1999 and remained politically and socially active after retirement.
The institution of the presidency in the modern Republic of Macedonia began after the declaration of independence on September 8, 1991. Its first president was Kiro Gligorov, the oldest president in the world until his resignation in 1999. The Macedonian presidency is a non-executive office. The head of the executive branch is the prime minister. The president must be a citizen of the Republic of Macedonia, be over 40 years of age and have lived in Macedonia for at least ten of the previous fifteen years
Born in Stip, subsequently annexed by Bulgaria, Gligorov later graduated from the University of Belgrade's Law School and participated in the anti-fascist struggle of the ethnic Macedonians from 1941. He helped create the state of Socialist Republic of Macedonia as a secretary of the Initiative Committee for the Organisation of the Antifascist Assembly of the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) and a finance commissioner in its Presidium.
He held various senior positions in the political establishment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including that of the Secretary of State for Finance in the Federal Executive Council, was a a member of the Yugoslav Presidency and President of the Assembly of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
During the period of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, there was a collective presidency which was abolished in 1991. Its first president was Metodija Andonov Cento elected at ASNOM, when the modern Macedonian state was formed, while the last one was Vladimir Mitkov.
Following the transition from the socialist system to parliamentary democracy in 1990, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia changed the collective leadership into a single-president post in 1991. Kiro Gligorov became the first democratically elected president of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia on 27 January 1991. On 16 April 1991, the parliament adopted a constitutional amendment removing the term “Socialist” from the official name of the country, and on June 7 of the same year, the new name “Republic of Macedonia” was officially established.
Hence Gligorov continued his function as a president of the Republic of Macedonia. After the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia began, the Republic of Macedonia proclaimed full independence following a referendum on September 8, 1991.
On October 3, 1995, Gligorov was the target of a car bomb assassination attempt in Skopje. While en route from his residence to his office, the vehicle carrying Gligorov was blown up by an explosion from a parked vehicle, killing his driver and injuring several passers-by. Gligorov was seriously injured above his right eye and was immediately taken to hospital.
There have been no suspects brought to light and no progress made on the case. There have only been short-lived speculations as to the culprits. Briefly, just after the attempt, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Republic of Macedonia Ljubomir Frckovski publicly claimed that “a powerful multinational company from a neighbouring country” was behind the assassination attempt, with the Macedonian media pointing at the Bulgarian Multigroup and the Yugoslav KOS as possible suspects. During a meeting between Multigroup head Iliya Pavlov and Gligorov in Ohrid, Pavlov assured the President of the Republic of Macedonia that his organisation was not involved. All investigations proved futile.
Gligorov was incapacitated until November 17, 1995, and became permanently blind in one eye as a result. Stojan Andov was acting president during Gligorov's recuperation.
He served for two terms, from January 27, 1991 to November 19, 1999. He was re-elected for his second term in office on November 19, 1994. He led his country to independence proclaimed after the referendum held on September 8, 1991 and tried to keep it out of the Yugoslav wars, a task made difficult by disputes with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece who all faced separate issues with the country.
On completing his second term as head of the independent state Gligorov was succeeded by Boris Trajkovski in 1999. Following Trajkovski's death in 2004, he was succeeded by Branko Crvenkovski. Gjorge Ivanov won the 2009 presidential election and took office on May 12, 2009.