Kenya holds state funeral for ex-President Kibaki

Kenya will hold a state funeral next week for former President Mwai Kibaki, who led the east African nation for more than a decade, Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said on Saturday.

Kibaki, who died at the age of 90, was the country’s third president from December 2002 to April 2013, succeeding Daniel arap Moi’s authoritarian rule.

“The former head of state will receive a state funeral with the highest honors for his service to our country,” Matiangi said.

Kibaki, whose political career dates back to the birth of independent Kenya, will be buried next Saturday at his home in Othaya in the Nyeri Highlands, he said.

“The funeral ceremony will be preceded by a funeral service at Nyayo National Stadium” in Nairobi on Friday and his body will be laid out in the Kenyan Parliament Monday through Wednesday for citizens to pay their respects, the minister said.

Messages of condolence from Kenyan politicians, African leaders, the African Union and former colonial ruler Britain as Kibaki’s death was announced on Friday.

His rule saw the most violent elections in Kenya’s history, when more than 1,100 people died in ethnic fighting following disputed 2007 elections, but he also oversaw the adoption of a new constitution with reforms aimed at preventing such unrest.

Kibaki left a legacy of strong growth in the regional economy, embarking on major infrastructure projects and boosting ailing health and education sectors.

But his rule was also marred by rampant government corruption, and lavish spending on flagship projects contributed to a mountain of debt.

Kibaki had kept a low profile since leaving office and made few public appearances.

The cause of death was not officially released, but his health had changed since a serious car accident in 2002 and he had been hospitalized on and off.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who described his predecessor as the “gentleman of Kenyan politics”, has ordered a period of national mourning until sunset next Saturday, when all flags on public buildings are to be flown at half-mast.

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