July 25 (UPI) -- Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, the first democratically elected leader of the North African country, died not long after he was taken to a military hospital, the president's office said Thursday. He was 92.
Essebsi's office didn't cite a cause of death or why he was hospitalized Wednesday. It was his second hospitalization in recent weeks, having spent a week there late last month for a "severe health crisis."
Tunisians elected Essebsi as president in 2014, the first free election since the country gained independence from France in 1956. He previously served as prime minister and leader of the secular Nidaa Tounes Party.
The party, an alliance of liberals, secularists and former government leaders, was formed in response to the post-revolution actions of the Ennahda Party in power. Nidaa Tournes was critical of the Islamist drift of the country and called for a progressive and secular society in Tunisia.
Tunisia's Constitution says the president of the Parliament should assume power for 45 to 90 days while the nation organizes new elections. The next presidential vote was scheduled for November. Essebsi did not plan to run again.