Madagascar’s former President Albert Zafy has died at the age of 90.
Prof Zafy passed away Friday at the St Pierre hospital in Reunion Island, a region of France east of Madagascar, where he was receiving treatment.
His ally and former Environment and Forestry minister Joseph Randriamiarisoa said Prof Zafy’s body will arrive at the Antananarivo Ivato International Airport on Saturday at 6pm.
The body will be taken to the National Palace of Culture and Sports at the Mahamasina Stadium in the capital Antananarivo for the people to pay their last respects on Sunday.
But the government has warned against crowding the facility due to an outbreak of pneumonic plague that has killed at least 60 people and infected more than 300 since August.
Antananarivo and its suburbs are some of the worst hit areas. The government has banned public gatherings and temporarily closed schools in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading.
The southeast African nation will observe a national day of mourning on Monday in honour of a man largely considered as the father of democracy in Madagascar.
Prof Zafy slid into a state of deep unconsciousness on Wednesday morning.
He underwent treatment at the intensive care unit of the Polyclinique d’Ilafy Antananarivo hospital before being transferred to Reunion Island.
Dr Randrianarisoa disclosed that the former president had heart related complications.
Prof Zafy ruled the island nation between 1993 and 1996.
The renowned cardiologist ascended to the throne following months of political instability in early 1990s. The-then opponents of the incumbent socialist leader Didier Ratsiraka were challenging the legitimacy of his authority.
Prof Zafy is also recognised as the father of the national reconciliation initiative in the country.
Malagasy politicians, including former President Ratsiraka, have been paying tribute to Prof Zafy following the news of his demise.