Ex-Kosovo PM Bajram Rexhepi dies after a stroke at 63

Bajram Rexhepi, Kosovo's former prime minister and interior minister, has died in a hospital in Turkey following a stroke. He was 63.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said in a statement that Rexhepi, a surgeon by profession, passed away in the early hours Monday following months of battling a grave illness. He was taken to Turkey after a stroke in April.

Rexhepi, also ex-mayor of the northern city of Mitrovica, was among the independence fighters in the 1998-99 war and afterwards was deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, or PDK, created from former independence fighters.

Since 2010 he had withdrawn from politics.

Mustafa hailed him as "the first prime minister after the first post-war elections."

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and is still not recognized by Belgrade.