Nairobi – Kenya’s second president Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, who ruled the country with an iron fist between 1978 and 2002, has died aged 95, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Tuesday.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the death of a great man of an African state,” Kenyatta said in a statement.
He ordered a period of national mourning until a state funeral is held, on a date not yet announced.
The former president died “in the early morning of February 4 at Nairobi hospital in the presence of his family,” Kenyatta said.
Politically astute, Moi’s 24-year rule saw his country become a one-party state where critical voices were crushed, corruption became endemic and tribal divisions were stoked and turned bloody.
Africa Tembelea understands that he fought off rivals in a bitter contest to take the top job in 1978, succeeding Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, when he died.
Popularly known to Kenyans as Nyayo, a Swahili word for “footsteps”, as he often said, he was following in the footsteps of the first President, Kenyatta. This earned him the sobriquet “Professor of Politics” due to his long rule of 24 years, the longest in Kenyan history.
Many analysts agree that Moi will be remembered for his great efforts towards consolidating peace and tranquility within the East African Region, at a difficult time of the region and the African continent.
His later return — under significant pressure — to multiparty elections in 1992, and peaceful handover of power to opposition leader Mwai Kibaki in 2002 also won him some praise.
Mr Moi is survived by eight children. He and his late wife, Helena Bomett, divorced in 1979.