Monrovia -

Former Liberian president Gyude Bryant, who led a peacetime government after two ruinous back-to-back civil wars, died aged 65 on Wednesday, the government said in a statement.

Bryant was sworn in as the “chairman” of a transitional government and served for more than two years as part of a peace agreement to end the conflicts which ran from 1989 to 2003, leaving 250 000 people dead and the economy in tatters.

“According to the special aide of Chairman Bryant he complained that he could not breathe properly. He was rushed to (Monrovia's) JFK Hospital where he died a few hours later,” the statement said.

“The government regrets the loss of the former interim leader, we extend our deepest sympathy,” Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson was quoted as saying.

Bryant's inauguration came two months after the flight into exile of disgraced president Charles Taylor, who was at the centre of the two wars.

A successful entrepreneur and politician, Bryant helped set up the Liberia Action Party (LAP) and was seen as an independent player in Liberian politics.

The soft-spoken but forthright Bryant led a 21-member government divided up under the August peace pact among Taylor loyalists, rebels, the political opposition and civic groups. - Sapa-AFP