NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 24 – Kenya will mourn the death of Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa for three days.
President Uhuru Kenyatta made the declaration Friday, and directed that the East African national flags fly at half-mast.
Mkapa, who ruled Tanzania from 1995 to 2005, died on Friday morning after a long illness, according to the country’s President John Pombe Magufuli.
“In recognition of this immense loss and tragedy, and as a show of our National Respect for the Fallen African Giant, I have issued a Presidential Proclamation, announcing that the Republic of Kenya shall observe 3 days of national mourning throughout the entire territory of our CountrY,” Kenyatta said in a statement.
The order takes effect on Monday July 27 to July 29.
“During this mourning period, the Kenyan Flag and the Flag of the East African Community shall fly at half-mast,” the statement said, in mourning Tanzania’s third president.
In his condolence message, the President described Mkapa as a statesman who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace and progress of the region.
Former President Mwai Kibaki also mourned Mkapa as a revolutionary who served with dedication during his tenure in office from 1995 to 2005.
Kibaki described Mkapa as an outstanding public servant who served with a remarkable dedication that strengthens Tanzania’s economy.
“Mkapa’s is a perfect portrait of public-spiritedness replete with invaluable lessons for those who serve or wish to serve in the public space,” he said.
Kibaki added that Mkapa played a pivotal role in making Africa a better place noting that his input will forever be missed.
“In his retirement, Benjamin Mkapa, at some point or other, mediated peace talks in South Sudan, the DRC Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Kenya. He, no doubt, valued and worked towards a more tranquil Africa,” he said.
African Union envoy for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga, eulogized Mkapa as a “great friend of the Kenyan people, a pan-Africanist, a true believer in South-South Cooperation and a global statesman.”
“In Kenya we retain fond memories of his mediation efforts alongside Dr Koffi Annan and Graca Machel that helped the country return to peace after the 2007-2008 election violence,” he said.
Odinga added that “Mkapa believed in Regional Integration and championed the revival of the East Africa Community. In his death, Africa has lost a giant”.
President John Magufuli announced the death of Mkapa who died aged 81 at a hospital in the country’s commercial hub, Dar es Salaam, while receiving treatment for an unknown ailment.
“I’m saddened by the death of the third president of Tanzania and that is a big loss for us as a country. Let’s pray for him and more information will follow later,” said Magufuli in a televised speech.
He ordered flags at half-mast for seven days as the country mourns the leader who served from 1995 to 2005, handing over to Jakaya Kikwete.