Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, a Catholic who led several regional peace mediation efforts, has died. He was 81.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli said Mkapa had been undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, where he died on July 24. Magufuli urged the people to remain calm, united and peaceful as they mourned their former president, who served from 1995 to 2005.
“Our retired president, rest in peace,” said Auxiliary Bishop Method Kilaini of Bukoba. “You have fought a good fight and you have won the race.”
Mkapa is credited for introducing economic reforms after opening the country to foreign investors. He boosted tax collection and introduced strict measures to curb corruption, measures that led the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to cancel Tanzania’s debt.
In retirement, Mkapa become a key peace mediator in the East African region. His latest effort was an attempt to mediate peace in Burundi, where a controversial election triggered a crisis in 2015.
Mkapa is survived by his wife, Anna, and two sons.
The country will mourn for seven days, a period during which all flags will fly at half-mast.