Tanzania's former President Benjamin Mkapa, who served from 1995 to 2005, died in the early hours of Friday July 24, President John Magufuli said in a statement.
He was 81.
Mr Mkapa, the SADC country’s third president who led several regional peace mediation efforts in office and afterwards, died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, President Magufuli said without giving more details.
"I will remember him for his great love for the nation, his piety, hard work and performance in building the economy," President Magfuli said.
The president declared a seven-day mourning period, during which all flags will be flown at half-mast.
"Magufuli asks all Tanzanians to remain calm, patient and united during this difficult time," a statement from his office said.
A former journalist, Mr Mkapa also served as an ambassador, minister and key official of the ruling CCM party, and as president he helped transform the nation to a free market economy.
Building on initial plans by his predecessor Mr Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Mr Mkapa is credited for implementing far-reaching reforms that included the sale of some state-owned corporations and opening up of the country to more foreign investment in policies supported by the World Bank and IMF.
“A statesman particularly remembered as an indefatigable peacemaker in the East African region. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, the people and government of Tanzania,” Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the African Union Commission, said on Twitter.
Mr Mkapa was last seen in public on July 11 in the capital, Dodoma, when ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi picked President Magufuli to run for a second term in the October 2020 elections. - Agencies