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March 18, 2021

The President of Tanzania, John Magufuli has passed away at the age of 61, after an illness that saw him disappear from public life for 2 weeks.

This was disclosed by Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan in a broadcast on Wednesday evening.

“Dear Tanzanians, it is sad to announce that today 17 March 2021 around 6 p.m. we lost our brave leader, President John Magufuli who died from heart disease at Mzena hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was getting treatment,” the vice president said

Magufuli had not been seen in public since the 24th of February. The Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, will be sworn in and complete the rest of the five-year term that Magufuli began serving last year after winning a second term, becoming Tanzania’s first female president.

Magufuli was born in Chato, north-west Tanzania, in 1959, and Studied Chemistry and maths at the University of Dar es Salaam, after which he worked as a Teacher and Industrial Chemist before he entered Politics.

He was elected as Member of Parliament in 1995, Minister in 2000 and President in 2015. 

He earned the moniker “the bulldozer” because of his bullish leadership style and anti-corruption fight in the road construction industry. His critics accused him of being autocratic.

In 2015, he ran for president and won 58 per cent of the vote, defeating Edward Lowassa of the Chadema opposition party.

Last year, he was re-elected — a result that was rejected by opposition presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan addressed the nation on state television late on Wednesday, saying Magufuli had died from the heart disease that had plagued him for a decade. She said burial arrangements were underway for the 61-year-old leader but did not indicate when she would be sworn in.

“The VP has to be sworn in immediately,” opposition leader Zitto Kabwe told Reuters by phone from Dar es Salaam on Thursday morning.

“The constitution doesn’t allow a vacuum, once it was official that the president has died, the next step was for the vice president to be sworn in.”

According to Tanzania’s Constitution, Vice President Hassan, 61, should assume the presidency for the remainder of the five-year term that Magufuli began serving last year after winning a second term. She would be the East African nation’s first female president and the only female currently holding executive power in the region.

Source: Reuters
Image Source: Getty Images