East Africa News

Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa dies

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s former President Benjamin William Mkapa, 81, has died, President John Magufuli has announced.

While relaying the news on Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) July 24, President Magufuli said Mr Mkapa died at Dar es Salaam Hospital where he was admitted.

“I call on all Tanzanians to receive the news of his death and to pray for Mzee Mkapa. More information will be released but Mzee Mkapa is no more,” he said in brief television statement.

He also declared a seven-day mourning period. During this time, all flags in the country will be flown at half-mast.

Mr Mkapa led Tanzania from 1995 to 2005 before handing over to Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

He was born on November 12, 1938.

The former president is known for leading several peace mediation efforts in the region, including taking part in Kenya’s post-election conciliation exercise in 2008.

He was part of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which ended the post-election violence after the highly disputed December 27, 2007 elections.

Former Attorney Genral Amos Wako (left) assists former President Mwai Kibaki as he and ODM Leader Raila Odinga sign the power-sharing pact. Looking on are former Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Chief Mediator Kofi Annan and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.

Mr Mkapa later penned a book where he revealed that locking out Mr William Ruto (now Deputy President) and Ms Martha Karua from the post-elections violence mediation team in 2008 helped secure a power-sharing agreement between former President Mwai Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Mkapa also mediated talks between the Burundi government and opposition in 2016 that were aimed at ending a long political crisis.

‘OUTSTANDING EAST AFRICAN’

President Uhuru Kenyatta has described the late Tanzanian leader as a man who worked tirelessly to ensure peace and integration in the region.

“In his message of comfort, the President mourned the departed Tanzanian leader as an outstanding East African who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace and progress of the region,” a statement issued from State House said.

Former President Mwai Kibaki described Mr Mkapa as one of Africa’s most illustrious sons.

“Mkapa’s is a perfect portrait of public spiritedness replete with valuable lessons for those who
serve or wish to serve in the public space. A revolutionary at heart whose efforts to deregulate Tanzania’s economy marked the beginning of a new dawn in his country, the late Mkapa — a close
ally of Tanzania’s founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere — distinguished himself as one of the most reputable peace brokers in the region,” a statement signed by Mr Kibaki said.

Former President Mwai Kibaki receives former Presidents Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria (centre) and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania (left) 

“In his retirement, Benjamin Mkapa, at some point or other, mediated peace talks in Kenya, the DRC Congo, Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Burundi. Mkapa most certainly played his role in making a Africa better place. May he rest in eternal peace,” he added.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga described as a “a great friend of the Kenyan people, a pan-Africanist, a true believer in South-South Cooperation.”

He said Kenyans will have fond memories of his efforts to bring peace to the country after the 2007-2008 election violence. 

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