Michal Kovac, who served as the first president of Slovakia after it became an independent state in 1993, has died. He was 86.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Netik said Kovac died Wednesday in a Bratislava hospital.

When Slovakia gained independence in 1993 after the split of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, Kovac was elected president and held the mostly ceremonial presidential post until 1998.

He was no longer involved in politics after his term expired.

Born August 5, 1930 in the village of Lubisa, Kovac graduated from the University of Economics and worked in banking sector before getting into politics after the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

He served as Czechoslovakia's finance minister in 1990-91 and was also speaker of Czechoslovakia's Parliament in 1992.