South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Friday paid tribute to the late President Mwai Kibaki at Nyayo National Stadium.
In his tribute, President Ramaphosa said the news of Kibaki’s passing touched “our hearts and we extend our condolence to you as Kenyans.”
President Ramaphosa in addition said South Africans felt the pain and anguish that Kenyans are going through but at the same time, urged Kenyans to celebrate and remember the life of Kibaki with fondness and Kindness because indeed he was a great statesman.
He also urged Kenyans to remember the late President for what he stood for and what he did for this great nation.
“My presence here is to come and comfort my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta and also to say that relations between SA and Kenya continue to be strengthened in moments of celebration and in moments of sadness,” he said.
President Ramaphosa further said that Kibaki would be remembered for the leadership that he demonstrated, not only to Kenya but the African continent.
“We especially remember him for his leadership in uniting the people of Kenya. We in SA saw him in the mold in which we saw our first president Nelson Mandela who sort to unite our nation and who planted the seed of the development of South Africa.”
On her part, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde in her tribute conveyed her condolences of the people and government of Ethiopia and of her own to President Kenyatta and the bereaved Kibaki family and to the people of Kenya.
She termed President Kibaki as a true friend of Ethiopia before and after assumption to the presidency.
“During his tenure, Ethiopia and Kenya made strides in tremendous strides in elevation of the long-standing relationship. This was seen through achievements registered through achievements jointly registered both at the regional and national levels,” she said.
President Zewde in addition noted that during the late Kibaki’s tenure, both Kenya and Ethiopia signed the special status agreement laying the foundation of the Lamu Port, South Sudan and Ethiopia Corridor known as LAPPSET, as well as the Moyale One Stop Boarder post.
“At the regional level, Kenya with our regional organization IGAD has been very active and has been host to a series of Somali peace processes. She also took part in the Sudan Peace Talks seeking to end two decades of bloody warfare,” she said.
“In the spirit of the remarkable ties that our two countries that have built over the years, we shall continue to sustain and strengthen the excellent relations we have built up to this days.”
In conclusion, President Zewde said “as we gather here to pay our last respect, it should not be to mourn but to celebrate a life dedicated to serving his nation.”
Meanwhile, South Sudan Minster of State in the Presidency read a tribute of the late Kibaki on behalf of President Salva Kiir Mayardit who was indisposed due to his vocal cords.
In the tribute, President Salva Kiir said that when the news of the death of Kibaki reached him, he was on a foreign trip. In honour of the late President, he then cut short his trip and ordered for flags to fly at half-mast in South Sudan.
The tribute also honored the late Kibaki for facilitating the signing of the peace process that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
“We can say with confidence that we owe Kibaki special gratitude for the freedom and independence that we enjoy today,” President Salva Kiir said.
In conclusion, the South African Head of State thanked Kenyans for voting in capable leadership of the region.