By Perparim Isufi
Bajram Rexhepi, the first elected Prime Minister of Kosovo, has died in a hospital in Turkey after suffering a stroke earlier this year.
Bajram Rexhepi, the first elected Prime Minister of Kosovo following the 1999 war of independence, died on Monday at the age of 63 in a hospital in Turkey, where he had been receiving treatment for months following a stroke in April this year.
News of the death of Rexhepi was confirmed by his Kosovo Democratic Party, PDK.
A surgeon by vocation, he was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, the armed force that took on the Serbian police and military, in 1998-1999.
Immediately after the war he became mayor of the northern town of Mitrovica at a time when the town was splitting along ethnic lines into a Serb-controlled north and a Kosovo Albanian-controlled south – a division that remains to this day.
In 2002, he was elected Prime Minister of Kosovo based on a broad coalition agreement between three largest parties. He served as head of Kosovo government until 2004.
In the 2007 mayoral elections he was again elected mayor of Mitrovica. In 2010 he was appointed Interior Minister, a position he held until 2014.
He then returned to his professional duties as a doctor in Mitrovica, away from politics.
Kadri Veseli, the head of the PDK, on Facebook expressed sorrow concerning the death of his former colleague.
“I am saddened by the news of the death of Bajram Rexhepi, former Kosovo Prime Minister and former PDK Vice-President. It is a great loss for the country. His contribution to Kosovo was huge and people of Kosovo will remember him as a great and very responsible worker,” Veseli said.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi also voiced his sadness on the death of his long-time collaborator.
“Devastated by news of the untimely demise of former PM, minister, dear friend and colleague Dr Bajram Rexhepi. Condolences to family, friends,” Thaçi wrote on Twitter.
Rexhepi was born in Mitrovica in 1954, gradùated from the university of Pristina and completed his studies in Zagreb.