Former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa dies aged 81

Tanzania – Former president of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa had died at the age of 81 in a Dar es Salaam hospital, the government announced on Friday.

Mkapa was the country’s third president after independence from Britain in 1962 and rules between 1995 and 2005.

“I’m saddened by the death of the third president of Tanzania and that is a big loss for us as a country. Let’s pray for him and more information will follow later,” said President John Magufuli in a televised speech.

He did not reveal the cause of death.

Mkapa was born in 1938 in south-eastern Mtwara. He earned a degree in English in Uganda and worked as a journalist before he was appointed the press secretary for the country’s first president Julius Nyerere.

He held several cabinet posts which included foreign minister and information minister and also served as ambassador to the United States before he was elected president.

Tanzania will hold a period of seven days of mourning, during which the national flag will be flown at half mast.

The former president had recently attempted to mediate between Burundi’s government and opposition groups after a disputed 2015 election plunged the country into crisis, however the government repeatedly refused to take part and the talks went nowhere.

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