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Africa leaders pay tribute to Moi for role in building regional blocs

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African leaders joined thousands of Kenyans to pay tribute to former President Daniel arap Moi at the State funeral service on February 11, 2020 at Nyayo Stadium. PHOTO | PSCU

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Summary

  • Several presidents from the region, including Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde, Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) joined their host Uhuru Kenyatta and other mourners at the service.
  • Tens of thousands of people turned out in Nairobi to watch Moi’s cortege, draped in the Kenyan flag, transported on a gun carriage from State House to Nyayo National Stadium for the State funeral service.
  • The tone was positive as all who spoke celebrated Moi’s life saying only good things about the former leader.

African leaders on Tuesday joined thousands of Kenyans at the State funeral of former President Daniel arap Moi, recalling his peacemaking role on the continent and the formation of regional trading blocs such as the East African Community (EAC).

Several presidents from the region, including Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde, Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) joined their host Uhuru Kenyatta and other mourners at the service.

The leaders said Mr Moi was instrumental in the establishment of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) — the eight-country trade bloc — in 1998 and the revival of EAC, which had collapsed in 1977 amid bitter disagreements.

Kenya’s longest ruling president, who died last week at the age of 95, was also key in the formation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), besides mediating conflicts in Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

“I witnessed the contributions of Kenyatta and Moi. One quality I saw in (Moi) was that he was a patriot. He also wanted the East African Federation, not just politically but even emotionally you could see that he loved East Africa,” said President Museveni.

Nigeria’s Deputy President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari said: “He (Moi) will be remembered for the pioneering work he did for regional integration, including in the Comesa and Igad. These are the precursors of African free trade continental agreement being discussed today”. African leaders last year launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion (Sh340 trillion) economic bloc.

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African leaders joined thousands of Kenyans to pay tribute to former President Daniel arap Moi at the State funeral service on February 11, 2020 at Nyayo Stadium. PHOTO | PSCU

Mr Kiir also paid tribute to Moi’s role in fostering peace in the neighbouring nation.

“(Former president Moi) remains a hero of our independence and freedom. South Sudan is the product of his work and will forever remain his legacy,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people turned out in Nairobi to watch Moi’s cortege, draped in the Kenyan flag, transported on a gun carriage from State House to Nyayo National Stadium for the State funeral service. Officers from the Army, Air Force and the Navy escorted the procession into the stadium, where choirs sang gospel songs.

Moi ascended to power in 1978 when he was serving as vice-president after the nation’s founding Mzee President Jomo Kenyatta died in office.

“As an avid peacemaker, statesman, pan-Africanist and champion for a more united and just world, Moi spearheaded a number of initiatives that brought peace within our region and beyond,” Mr Kenyatta told mourners.

He will be buried on Wednesday at his Kabarak farm in Nakuru County. His son, Senator Gideon Moi, intimated that his father had a love for meat and beyond being the longest serving president in Kenya, he was a good father to his eight children. He also said that his father was a fan of wrestling, his favourite being English professional wrestler Shirley Crabtree Jr. who went by the moniker Big Daddy.

The tone was positive as all who spoke celebrated Moi’s life saying only good things about the former leader.

After the repeal of Section 2A and the introduction of multipartyism in the early 90s, Moi won elections in 1992 and 1997, defeating a divided opposition. He went into retirement when the ten-year term limit forced him to step down in 2002, after picking Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor. Mr Kenyatta lost the 2002 election to President Mwai Kibaki, whom he succeeded in 2013.

Moi lived quietly between his city home and Kabarak farm until his passing last week.