Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s third president from 2003 to 2013, died at the age of 90. He ushered in economic reforms and a new constitution but struggled to combat widespread corruption.
Kibaki, a British-educated economist, won the presidency after four decades as a legislator, government minister, and then vice president to his predecessor, Daniel arap Moi.
Kibaki, whose death was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, is credited with revitalizing Kenya’s then-ailing economy, but his tenure was marred by deadly violence that claimed over 1,200 lives following his disputed re-election in December 2007.
When journalists were abruptly ejected from the election commission, the opposition was far ahead. Kibaki’s narrow victory was announced hours later. Smoke immediately began rising from protesters’ fires.
Kenyatta recalled Kibaki’s lengthy public service, which included five decades as a member of parliament.
“Kibaki was a quintessential patriot whose legacy of civic responsibility will continue to inspire generations of Kenyans long into our future,” Kenyatta said during a televised address.
Kenyatta did not specify the cause of death, but domestic media reported that Kibaki had been ill for some time.
Politicians took a break from campaigning for the Aug. 9 general election to mourn Kibaki.
“He stood firmly and laid the foundation for the economic fruits that Kenya is experiencing today,” said Musalia Mudavadi, who is campaigning for Deputy President William Ruto in the presidential race.
However, Kibaki failed to address widespread corruption, which remains a key demand of voters in the upcoming elections, which pit Ruto against Raila Odinga, a former veteran opposition leader who has been embraced by the political establishment.
Kibaki also attempted to bring peace to regional hotspots, according to Moses Wetengula, a former cabinet member. “As his foreign minister, I ran many missions to stabilise Somalia and other pockets of instability including Congo,” Wetangula explained.
Kenyan peacekeepers continue to patrol southern Somalia.