President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has issued a Presidential Proclamation announcing that Kenya will observe 3 days of national mourning following the death of former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa. The Kenyan and EAC Flags will fly at half-mast from Monday to Wednesday.
In his message of comfort, the Kenyan President mourned the departed Tanzanian leader as an outstanding East African who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace and progress of the region.
This is coming just as former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who ushered in free-market reforms after winning the nation’s first democratic elections in 1995, died on Friday. He was aged 81.
Mkapa is said to have died at a hospital in the nation’s commercial hub, Dar es Salaam, while receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, according to President John Magufuli’s office in a statement on Friday.
A former journalist and diplomat who studied at Makerere University in neighboring Uganda and Columbia University in New York, Mkapa served as Tanzania’s president for a decade until 2005.
During his rule, he implemented far-reaching reforms that helped transform the gold- and gas-rich East African nation from a socialist state into a free-market economy. Mkapa’s efforts included the sale of state-owned companies to private investors and opening up the country to more foreign investment through policies supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Mkapa also helped mediate political reconciliation and peace settlements in countries including Kenya and Burundi during and after his presidency. He is reputed to have mediated peace after Kenya’s bungled 2007 elections, making sure that Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga reached a deal.
Other prominent Africans have expressed their sorrow over his demise:
“A statesman particularly remembered as an indefatigable peacemaker in the East African region. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, the people and government of Tanzania,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, said on Twitter.
President Magufuli declared seven days of national mourning. Arrangements are being made for members of the public to pay their last respects to Mkapa at the national stadium in Dar es Salaam.