Botswana begins 7-day mourning for first president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda

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Zambia's first President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda (sited at the centre) celebrates his 87th birthday on April 28, 2011

Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Thursday declared a seven-day mourning period in the country in honor of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first President.

All flags must fly at half-mast during the mourning period, according to a decree made by Masisi.

“Dr. Kaunda was an iconic statesman of the highest credentials and selfless dedication to the interests of his own country as well as the wellbeing of neighbors and humankind at large,” said Masisi in his message of condolences.

Describing the late Dr. Kaunda as “charismatic,” Masisi said the demise of the former Zambian leader is a loss to his “compatriots and to all peace-loving people in Botswana and elsewhere.”

Dr. Kaunda, who ruled the copper mining nation from 1964 until 1991, died at age of 97. He was at the forefront of the Zambia struggle for independence from British rule and one of the pioneer leaders of a new Africa

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