Tanzania’s vice-president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has on Friday been sworn in as president, becoming the 6th and first female leader in the east African country.
President Suluhu, 61, was sworn in at State House in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
She is not only be Tanzania’s first female president but also the first female president in Eastern Africa.
President Salahu assumed the role following Wednesday’s announcement of the death of John Pombe Magufuli, after a two-week absence from public life that drew speculation about his health.
Dressed in a red hijab and black suit—the ceremonial colours of the army—President Suluhu received a 21-gun salute with the military singing Tanzanian and East African Community anthems.
After taking her oath of office before former Presidents Mwinyi and Kikwete, she announced that Magufuli would be buried at his Chato hometown in Geita region on March 25. President Magufuli, the first to die in office in the country, will be given a state funeral.
President Suluhu took oath under the Chief Justice, Prof Ibrahim Juma, and will serve the remainder of late Magufuli’s second term in office until 2025.
According to Tanzanian constitution, she will be eligible to run for another five-year term. Chapter two, Part 1, Article 37 (5) of the constitution reads;
Where the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, loss of electoral qualifications or inability to perform his functions due to physical infirmity, or failure to discharge the duties and functions of the office of President, then the Vice-President shall be sworn in and become the President for the unexpired period of the term of five years…”
In a statement, the presidency said President Suluhu would address the nation following the swearing in ceremony and would also hold a cabinet meeting.
Following 2015 general election, President Salahu became the first woman to serve as Tanzania Vice-President, after being elected alongside President Magufuli. They were both re-elected to a second term in 2020.
Meanwhile, the absence of Magufuli, Africa’s most vehement Covid-19 sceptic, since February 27 had fuelled speculation about his health and sparked rumours he had contracted the disease, although officials had denied he was ill. President Salahu said he had died of heart disease.
Read Also: President Magufuli Declares Tanzania ‘Coronavirus Free’
Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, Magufuli downplayed the severity of the virus. At one point, he made fun of the country’s coronavirus testing facilities, saying he had secretly sent samples of papaya and goat and that they came out positive.
Though he never provided proof of that claim, he warned that those results could mean that people were getting false positive results.
Shortly afterward, Tanzania stopped sharing updates on the number of people infected and killed due to COVID-19. The country’s last coronavirus figures were given in May last year.
As at today, 509 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus and 29 had died.
Described as a soft-spoken consensus-builder, President Salahu will also be the country’s first president born in Zanzibar, the archipelago that forms part of the union of the Republic of Tanzania.
Her leadership style is seen as a potential contrast from Magufuli, a brash populist who earned the nickname “Bulldozer” for muscling through policies and who drew criticism for his intolerance of dissent, which his government denied.
President Salahu is married Hafidh Ameir, at present a retired agricultural officer. They have four children. Her second-born, Wanu Hafidh Ameir (born 1982), is a special seat member of Zanzibar House of Representatives.
As president of Tanzania, Salahu is widely expected to address a number of issues in the country especially regarding coronavirus pandemic.
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