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Tanzania’s Former President Benjamin Mkapa Dies at 81


FILE - Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa.

Tanzania’s former president Benjamin Mkapa has died at a Dar es Salaam hospital where he was receiving treatment, according to a statement from President John Magufuli. Mkapa served as the third president of the country, from 1995 to 2005, before handing over power to the fourth president Jakaya Kikwete.

Announcing death to the nation on television via the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, President John Magufuli said Benjamin Mkapa died late Friday.

Magufuli called on all Tanzanians to receive the news of Mkapa’s death and to pray for the country’s beloved father. He said more information will be released, but Mkapa is no more.

The president declared a seven-day mourning period, during which all flags will be flown at half-staff.

A statement from the United States Embassy in Tanzania, posted on Twitter, says the embassy is deeply saddened by the passing of Mkapa. The message said as president he worked tirelessly to bring greater peace and prosperity not only to Tanzania but to the whole region.

The embassy statement added that Mkapa’s efforts to reform the economy, fight corruption, and reduce the spread of HIV will make a positive impact on Tanzania for generations to come.

During his term in office, Mkapa privatized state-owned corporations and instituted free-market policies which won the support of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and resulted in the cancellation of some of Tanzania's foreign debt.

He also chaired various peace resolution meetings and lead the East Africa Community dialogue committee that sought to find a solution to the political instability in Burundi.

The cause of Mkapa’s death was not immediately released.