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Sierra Leone bids farewell to peacemaker president

Published on Mar 24, 2014 12:12 AM

FREETOWN (AFP) - Thousands of Sierra Leoneans gathered under a tropical sun in Freetown's national stadium on Sunday to pay their last respects to celebrated former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

Widely credited with returning peace to the shattered west African nation after years of brutal civil war, Mr Kabbah died at home in Freetown after a long illness on March 13, aged 82.

Mourners in sombre Western dress or west African attire waved banners, sang Christian hymns and listened to readings from the Koran in an ecumenical celebration of the life of Sierra Leone's first Muslim head of state since independence in 1961.

"We are honouring a man who truly deserved honour... He was a great Sierra Leonean, a man who stood tall at critical moments of our country's history," said President Ernest Bai Koroma, dressed in billowing traditional black robes.

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