NAIROBI, Kenya — Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki, who served as president of Kenya from 2002 to 2012, died April 22. He was 90.
President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a national mourning period for Kibaki, a Catholic. Details of his funeral were not announced immediately.
“As we mourn this immeasurable loss, we recall with eternal gratitude President Kibaki’s patriotic journey in the service of his country, which can be traced way back in Kenya’s fight for liberation,” said Kenyatta, describing Kibaki as a gentleman of Kenyan politics, a brilliant debater whose eloquence, wit and charm won the day.
The late leader is credited for introducing free primary school education in Kenya, a period that saw many poor children in informal settlements and in remote rural areas attend school. School enrollment rose to 80 percent, and some of the biggest beneficiaries were girls and women who had been locked out of school due to lack of school fees. Kibaki also made basic and affordable health care accessible to citizens.
“He was firm in what he did. It was during his period when the economy started to grow. I can say he was the only Kenya leader who attempted to deal with corruption cartels with some success,” said Father Joachim Omolo Ouko, a member of the Apostles of Jesus in the Kisumu Archdiocese.
Yet, disputes over his reelection in 2007 triggered postelection violence. At least 1,300 people were killed and 600,000 displaced in weeks of ethnic violence after former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the election had been stolen. The violence ended after the international community brokered a deal in which Kibaki remained president and Odinga became prime minister.
“Nobody was better than Kibaki when it came to creating a team spirit,” Odinga said after the former president’s death.