Kenya’s former president, Mwai Kibaki, has died at the age of 90, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced.

His 2002 election ended 40 years of one-party rule since independence.

However, his 2007 re-election sparked months of nationwide violence and led to 1,200 deaths.

President Kenyatta, defeated by Mr Kibaki in 2002, led the tribute to his former rival, saying he had “led the charge to keep the ruling party accountable”.

Mr Kibaki had “earned the abiding respect and affection” of this nation, the president continued.

Mr Kenyatta declared a mourning period until Mr Kibaki’s burial, with flags flying at half-mast. He will be given a state funeral with full military honours, President Kenyatta said.

Many Kenyans are expressing a real sense of loss and regard Mr Kibaki as the best president Kenya has had since independence.

He was a sharp economist who set the country on a path of economic growth. He held a number of senior positions in treasury and government in his political career that spanned decades.

Politically, however, he was regarded as a non-confrontational fence-sitter and opportunist. 

He opposed the introduction of multiparty democracy but jumped ship after the constitution was amended. He then embraced it, formed his own political party and, 10 years later, went on to win the election as head of an opposition coalition.

Both traits would be seen during his tenure as president. Kenya recorded one of its highest rates of GDP growth during his first term, before the violence of the 2007 election severely dented his legacy.

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