Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania, has died.
Mkapa, 81, was lauded as a peacemaker and worked hard to resolve conflicts in East Africa. Mkapa served two terms as the country’s president from 1995 to 2005.
Mkapa, who was 81, led several regional peace mediation initiatives and even after the end of his second term, sought to mend fences between Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region.
President John Magufuli announced the news.
“I am saddened by the death of our Elder Benjamin Mkapa (Retired President of Phase 3),” he wrote on Twitter, noting that Mkapa was the country’s third president since its independence. “I will remember him for his great love for the Nation, his piety, hard work and performance in building the economy. Certainly the Nation has lost a strong pillar. May God place his soul in a good place in paradise, Amen.”
Magufuli also declared a seven day mourning period in Tanzania, during which all flags will be flown at half-mast.
“Magufuli asks all Tanzanians to remain calm, patient and united during this difficult time,” a statement from his office reads.
Following the announcement of his death, Kenyas’ President Uhuru Kenyatta declared three days of mourning in honor to the fallen mediator.
“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 three days of national mourning throughout the entire territory of our country,” said Kenyatta.