Rwanda declares three days of mourning for ex-Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa

FILE PHOTO: Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa (R) speaks with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti during a meeting in Khartoum October 11, 2010. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has declared three-days national mourning for former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who died Friday in a Tanzanian hospital at the age of 81.

The national mourning to start from July 27 to July 29 was declared in solidarity with the government and the people of Tanzania, during which the national flag and the flag of the East African Community (EAC) will be flown at half mast, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office of Rwanda said Saturday.

Kagame, also the current chairperson of EAC, on Friday eulogized Mkapa as a great Pan-Africanist whose contribution “went well beyond Tanzania.”

Born on Nov. 12, 1938, Mkapa was Tanzania’s third president and served two five-year terms from 1995 to 2005, before he was succeeded by President Jakaya Kikwete.

He supported South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere in seeking the resolution of political crises in Burundi from the middle of 1990s, in the wake of the assassination of Burundi’s first democratically elected Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye in 1993.

In 2016, the former Tanzanian leader was designated as the facilitator of the inter-Burundi dialogue, which aimed at finding a solution to a political crisis in Burundi due to a controversial bid of then Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza for his third term in 2015.