South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir will lead foreign leaders in paying their last respects to the late Kenya’s ex-President Mwai Kibaki at his State funeral in Nairobi on Friday.
In his condolence message, president Ramaphosa noted that Kibaki championed the cause of democracy and unity in Kenya and beyond.
President Kiir, who declared three days of national mourning with flags flying at half-mast across South Sudan in honour of Kibaki, described him as a courageous statesman who earned the respect of his peers following his work on regional stability.
“President Kibaki took a principled stance in his pursuit of dignified and practical politics throughout his political career. In opposition, his practical approach to politics kept the torch of accountability on Kenyan institutions,” Kiir said.
A list by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as seen by AEM shows that other expected dignitaries include Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde and ex-Malawi President Joyce Banda.
The rest include Rwanda Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga of Zimbabwe, Tanzania’s Philip Mpango, and Uganda’s Jessica Alupo, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Sri Lanka’s Special Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake.
“When he became President, the economic policies he enacted set Kenya on the path of sustainable development that will be built on by successive governments.”
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who will be represented by Ms Alupo noted that Kibaki was a transformational leader and a true Pan-Africanist.
“While at the helm of Kenya’s leadership, he played a fundamental role in achieving socio-economic transformation and prosperity for the Kenyan people. He was active in deepening the roots of African unity and cooperation for peace, development and security,” President Museveni said.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who will be represented by PM Ngirente, noted: “His dedication to the economic transformation of Kenya and his work towards regional integration will be remembered for many generations. The people of Rwanda stand with Kenya during this time.”
According to Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan, Kibaki was “one of Africa’s finest sons”. President Hassan will be represented by her deputy, Mr Mpango.
On Friday, Kenyans are expected to be seated by 8am in the Nyayo stadium for Kibaki’s funeral service. The public viewed his body when it lay in state at Parliament buildings from Monday to Wednesday.
President Kibaki was sworn in as the third President of Kenya on December 30, 2002, and served until April 9, 2013.
He will be remembered for spearheading free primary education, infrastructure developments in transport and energy, and increasing the availability of and access to healthcare.
He died on April 22 aged 90 and will be laid to rest on Saturday at his home in Othaya, Nyeri County, where preparations for his burial are underway.