PRISTINA, Kosovo — 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 afterward was deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, or PDK, created from former independence fighters.

Since 2010 he had withdrawn from politics.

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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.