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The plane carrying Kenyan envoys to the funeral didn’t make it.

According to Daily Nation, a plane carrying Kenyan envoys to the funeral of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa turned back to Nairobi because of bad weather, officials in Dar-es-Salaam said Tuesday.

Tanzanian Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Prof Palamagamba Kabudi announced during the farewell ceremony of the former leader at Uhuru Stadium that Kenyan officials could not attend the event.

“We were expecting a special envoy representing President Uhuru Kenyatta, including Senator Samuel Poghisio, the Majority Leader of the Kenyan Senate, but we have received information that their plane was forced to turn back mid air,” Prof Kabudi told mourners gathered at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam.

But Kenyan officials said the plane “developed mechanical challenges”, forcing it to turn back over Arusha.

Jane Kariuki, the head of public communication at the Foreign Affairs ministry, told the Nation that the Kenyan government was fully represented by the Kenyan High Commissioner to Tanzania Dan Kazungu at the funeral service.

Mkapa, who ruled Tanzania for from 1995 to 2005, died Thursday night aged 81.

On Sunday, his family said that the former Tanzanian president was suffering from malaria and died of a heart attack, scotching rumours that he succumbed to coronavirus.

“President Mkapa was found with malaria and he was admitted for treatment on Wednesday,” William Erio, a family member said during a funeral mass aired on State television.

His body will be transported to his rural home in Lupaso, Mtwara for burial scheduled Wednesday.

Mkapa was instrumental as the lead negotiator of the 2007-2008 post-election peace deal signed between former Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and ODM party leader Raila Odinga.

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Death of Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania)

Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa dies

Tanzania’s presidency said Benjamin Mkapa, 81, died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa, who served from 1995 to 2005, died in the early hours of Friday, President John Magufuli said in a statement.

Mkapa, 81, the East African nation’s third president who led several regional peace mediation efforts in office and afterwards, died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Magufuli said, without giving more details.

“I will remember him for his great love for the nation, his piety, hard work and performance in building the economy,” Magfuli said.

The president declared a seven-day mourning period, during which all flags will be flown at half-mast.

“Magufuli asks all Tanzanians to remain calm, patient and united during this difficult time,” a statement from his office said.

Mkapa also served as an ambassador, minister and key official of the ruling CCM party, Magufuli said.

The former president was born in 1938 to a poor family in south-eastern Mtwara. He earned a degree in English in Uganda, after which he went on to study at Columbia University in New York.

Mkapa later worked as a journalist before being appointed the press secretary for the country’s first president Julius Nyerere.

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

Mkapa had most 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. 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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