At the state funeral and requiem mass at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, visiting leaders described him as a great statesman who helped stabilize both his country and the region. African leaders paid their respects to Kenya’s former President Mwai Kibaki, who will be buried this Saturday.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africans admired Kibaki’s leadership, he compares it to Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid reforms.
“We are here together to celebrate the life of a great statesman,” he said, hoping Kenyans “will remember President Kibaki what he stood for.”
“We have learned many lessons from the way he led the people of Kenya.”
President Ramaphosa, who succeeded Thabo Mbeki in 2018, was one of Africa’s top political leaders attended the ceremony. Others included Salva Kiir from South Sudan and Sahle-Work Zewde from Ethiopia.
In his speech, President Ramaphosa said he would continue to strengthen ties between his country and Kenya.
Read:Leaders Pay Tribute to Kenya’s Ex-President Mwai Kibaki
In 2008, however, President Ramaphosa, then a businessman, was rebuffed by Kibaki’s camp when he offered to help in the conflict between Kibaki after the to mediate elections and his opponent at the time, Raila Odinga. Ramaphosa was turned down because he was said to be close friends with Raila and was not expected to be impartial.
Ramaphosa withdrew from the talks, which were later held by the former UN Secretary-General and now the late Kofi Annan, resulting in a power-sharing deal between Kibaki and Raila.
Mr Odinga described Kibaki as a tolerant leader and a perfectionist.
Read:Kibaki’s regional policies focused on economic growth and less on political intrigue
Regional leaders said he left an indelible mark on regional peace efforts.
“As we gather here to pay tribute to the late Mwai Kibaki our paying last respects, it should not be to mourn, but to celebrate a life dedicated to the service of one’s nation,” said Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work, who acknowledged Kibaki’s influence in establishing the Lamu Port South Sudan Transport Corri dors, which includes Lamu Port, as well as the Nairobi-Moyale Highway, designed to help connect the countries.
Read:Kib aki Legacy: Booming Economy, Free Education
Although an economist, Kibaki has been praised for his peace work, particularly in South Sudan and Somalia. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, in a speech read by his Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro, said his country “owes a great debt of gratitude to Kibaki for giving freedom and independence to our country.”
Kibaki hosted peace talks in Naivasha between the then South Sudanese rebels and the Sudanese government in 2005. This resulted in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave the region of South Sudan autonomy and later independence as the world’s youngest democracy, South Sudan, in 2011.
“The late Mwai Kibaki had an incredible gift of tolerance. He had the ability to endure pressure and pain without suffering,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Today we honor and salute the late Mwai Kibaki , for his commitment to our nation’s independence and most importantly as one of the foremost architects of the modern Kenyan state,” he added.
Read: Kibaki: First Ex-President appear in court in Kenya
Kibaki was president between 2002 and 2013. He died on April 22 at the age of 90. He was finance minister, vice-president and opposition leader before winning the presidency in 2003.
< p>Most of Kenya’s neighbors sent senior government officials, and in Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced a two-day national mourning and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast over his territory and abroad at his diplomatic missions until Kibaki’s funeral.
She conveyed her “sincere condolences” to the people of Kenya and urged Tanzanians to join in solidarity with their neighbors in “this difficult.” Time, according to a statement from the President’s Director of Communications, Zuhura Yunus.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa), the umbrella organization of local and foreign business associations, described the belated Kibaki as a hero whose economic reforms are transforming the economy of the country from negative to growth figures.
“Kepsa owes its creation in early 2003 to the vision of late President to work with a more united and representative private sector,” said Carol Kariuki, Kepsa Chief Executive Officer Grown positive 7.0 percent in 2002 in 2007.”
< p>– Additional reporting by Luke Anami and Mohamed Issa