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Uhuru leads several African leaders in paying tributes to fallen President Moi in Nairobi

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Thousands of people thronged into Nairobi's Nyayo Stadium to eulogize retired President Daniel Moi, who passed on a week ago, with President Uhuru Kenyatta leading the funeral service.

For a week now, the country has been in a grieving mood, following the demise of the strong man, who ruled the East Africa nation for 24 years, the longest in the history of Kenya.

By 8 am local time, the 30,000 seater stadium was filled to capacity, with mourners dressed in red and green attires, associated with the nonagenarian's KANU party.

Funeral procession started at the city's Lee Funeral Home in the company of Kenya Defense Forces troops, who matched to Kenya's State House for last respect.

Security was heightened along streets from State House to the stadium with both police and hawk-eyed military officers, some in the civilian.

The military made entry to the stadium with the body of Moi, whose casket was wrapped with a Kenyan flag, showcasing his patriotism. Tuesday had been declared a public holiday by the government.

Moi celebrated as Panafricanist

Uhuru, who Moi literally fronted as his heir apparent upon retirement in 2002, hailed the former president as "a Panafricanist whose urge for unity was indisputable".

Moi, Uhuru added, "envisioned a united and peaceful Africa, which he fought for until his death. He will be remembered for fixing our education system."

Mr. Kenyatta also hailed the deceased president for "leading by example" in African after retiring peacefully upon the end of his term, something that is not synonymous with African leaders.

Besides Uhuru, only Deputy President William Ruto, opposition leader Raila Odinga and the family members of Moi spoke during the requiem mass that was eclipsed with military decorations.

Moi, a peace ambassador in Africa

Regional leadership was fully represented, with African leaders pouring glowing tributes to Moi, whose name is familiar across the continent.

South Sudan's Salva Kiir, in a rare incident, almost went, terming Moi as "the hope and father of Juba's independence" from Sudan.

Throughout his time in power, Moi was a key figure in pushing for the independence of South Sudan, which would come after 9 years since leaving office in 2011.

Kiir said: "We have lost a true peace ambassador who valued suffering neighbors particularly South Sudan. We are very grateful to him.".

Sahle-Work Zewde, the Ethiopian president, lauded Moi's efforts towards strengthening IGAD, which has traditionally played a fundamental role in pushing for peace and development in Africa.

The first female president noted Moi's role in steering peace processes in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan, throughout his presidency.

She said "There is no better description for a Panafricanist than this man. He's a true friend of war-torn countries like Somalia and Sudan, not forgetting Ethiopia."

Others who shared similar sentiments were Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Ismael Omar of Djibouti and former Tanzanian Presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete.

KDF in firm grip ahead of Wednesday burial

After Tuesday's interdenominational service, focus now shifts to Kabarak Farm, 200 KM West of Nairobi, where Moi will be interred.

KDF troops, who have been in charge since his death, will ferry his body on a chopper, Wednesday, ahead of burial. Thousands of Kenyans are expected to attend.

Already, over 200, 000 people viewed Moi's body when lying in State at Parliament Buildings until Monday. His funeral is the second to be given full military honors.

Only his predecessor Jomo Kenyatta was accorded similar honors. The burial programs will start at 7 am on Wednesday, although security forces will conduct thorough screening, officials said.

Before his burial, the KDF team will fire 18 gun salute in honor of Moi, who will be buried in full military uniform having served as Commander-in-Chief.