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LIVE: Botswana’s Masire lying in state today

Botswana parliament

Gaborone, Botswana | AFP |  The body of Sir Ketumile Masire, Botswana’s second post-independence leader who passed away aged 91 on Thursday, is lying in state at the country’s parliament in Gabarone today.

It will give ordinary Batswana a chance to pay their last respects to their former leader, ahead of high of a high profile memorial and burial on Thursday. (Live TV bottom)

Soon after his death, President Ian Khama has declared three days of national mourning for the late leader, ahead of his burial on Thursday in Kanye, southwest of Gaborone.

“In remembrance of Sir Ketumile, we shall as of today, begin a three-day period of mourning… during which flags shall fly at half mast as they will also do on the day of the funeral,” he said in a statement.

One of Africa’s most respected elder statesmen, he was known for leading regional peace efforts in Mozambique, Kenya and Lesotho.

In recent years, he was heavily involved in efforts to bring peace to Mozambique, which descended into violence in 2013, pitting Renamo rebels against the government.

Masire took office in 1980 following the death of president Seretse Khama, and led the country until voluntarily stepping down 1998, having overseen a period of unprecedented economic growth.

He is largely credited with being responsible for Botswana’s longtime stability.

As well as mediating to end violence in Mozambique, Masire also helped to resolve political crises in Kenya and Lesotho after leaving office.

He also chaired an International Panel of Eminent Personalities investigating the circumstances of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

One of Africa’s most stable countries, Botswana is a republic with Masire’s Bechuanaland Democratic Party (BDP) — now the Botswana Democratic Party — holding power since independence in 1966.

Over that period, Botswana has enjoyed uninterrupted civilian rule.


*** Additional reporting by AFP


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