Tanzanian President John Magufuli, one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus skeptics, has died at the age of 61, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Wednesday after a more than two-week absence from public life that led to speculation about his health.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli, one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus skeptics, has died at the age of 61, said Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Wednesday after a more than two-week absence from public life that led to speculation about his health.
Magufuli, had not been seen in public since February 27 and sparked rumors that he had received COVID-19. Officials denied on March 12 that he had become ill.
“Dear Tanzanians, it is sad to announce that today, March 17, 2021, around 6 pm, we lost our brave leader, President John Magufuli, who died of heart disease at Mzena Hospital in Dar es Salaam, where he received treatment,” said Vice President TBC. .
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Friday that he had spoken to Magufuli and blamed the story of the president’s illness on some “hateful” Tanzanians living abroad.
Tundu Lissu, Magufuli’s main rival in the October election when the president won a second five-year term, had suggested that Tanzania’s leaders had fled to Kenya for treatment for COVID-19 and then moved to India in a coma.
After the death was announced, opposition leader Zitto Kabwe said he had spoken to Vice President Hassan to offer condolences for Magufuli’s death. “The nation remembers him for his contribution to the development of our country,” Kabwe said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Magufuli, from northwestern Tanzania, first won the presidency in 2015 and had faced accusations from Western countries and opposition parties of eroding democracy. He was nicknamed “Bulldozer” because of his reputation for pushing politics despite opposition.
According to Tanzania’s constitution, Vice President Hassan, 61, should take over the presidency for the remainder of the five-year term that Magufuli took office last year after winning a second term.
She would be the first female president of the East African nation.
Born in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, Hassan studied economics in the UK, worked for the UN World Food Program and then held various government positions before becoming Tanzania’s first female vice president in 2015.