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Thousands mourn death of Sierra Leone ex-president

Sunday - 3/23/2014, 3:40pm  ET

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) -- Thousands of mourners gathered in Sierra Leone's national stadium for the funeral of former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who oversaw the end of the country's civil war.

Current President Ernest Bai Koroma hailed Kabbah as "a great giant of democracy and peace" during Sunday's service.

Kabbah, who died March 13 at 82, became president in 1996. He was briefly ousted by a military coup before returning to power, stepping down in 2007 after serving two terms.

His supporters credit him with resisting the rebels during their 10-year terror campaign, and with helping to bring in the U.N. and British forces that crushed the rebels from 2000 on.

Koroma said Sunday's ceremony was also an opportunity to pay tribute to "Sierra Leoneans and international partners whose sacrifices made his presidency possible."

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