Tanzania’s president, missing for three weeks and rumoured to be sick with Covid-19, has died

Tanzanian President John Magufuli at an event in August 2020.

  • Tanzania announced the death of President John Magufuli, ending weeks of mystery about his health.
  • Magufuli declared Tanzania Covid-free last May and stopped releasing data. He was rumoured to be sick with the virus.
  • Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan will become Tanzania’s first female president since independence.
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Three weeks after he was last seen in public, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has died, the country’s vice president said in a televised statement on Wednesday.

Magufuli, one of the world’s most prominent Covid-deniers, was widely rumoured to be sick with the coronavirus and, according to some reports, had been taken to neighbouring Kenya for treatment. But the government has denied these reports, saying as recently as last Friday that Magufuli was in good health and working as normal.

“Today, March 17th this year, at 6pm, we have lost our courageous leader, President John Magufuli,” Tanzania’s Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, announced on state broadcaster TBC1.

Hassan said Magufuli, 61, died at a hospital in commercial capital Dar es Salaam from “chronic atrial fibrillation, a condition that he has had for more than 10 years.”

She declared 14 days of national mourning where flags will fly at half mast.

Under Tanzania’s constitution, Hassan, 61, will become the East African nation’s president and finish the remainder of the presidential term until next elections are held in 2025.

The 61-year-old Hassan, a moderate politician from the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, is set to become the country’s first female president since it’s independence from Britain in 1961.

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