Tanzania’s president dies aged 61 after Covid rumours

Tanzania's president dies aged 61 after Covid rumours
The 61-year-old president died from heart complications on Wednesday. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died after rumours circulated that he contracted Covid. The country’s vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan has announced the president’s death.

The 61-year-old leader died on Wednesday from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Ms Hassan said in an address on state television.

Magufuli had not been seen publicly for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about the condition of his health.

Last week, opposition politicians said that he had contracted Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed.

Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the disease.

Vice-President Hassan said in the announcement: “It is with deep regret that I inform you that today… we lost our brave leader, the president of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli.”

She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.

Ms Hassan will be sworn in as the new president, according to Tanzania’s constitution, and should serve the remainder of Magufuli’s five-year team which he began last year.

Magufuli was last seen in public on 27 February, but last week, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa insisted that the president was “healthy and working hard”.

He blamed the rumours of Mr Magufuli’s ill-health on “hateful” Tanzanians living abroad.

But opposition leader Tundu Lissu told that that his sources had told him Magufuli was being treated in hospital for coronavirus in Kenya.

Last June, Magufuli declared Tanzania “Covid-19 free”. Tanzania’s president mocked the efficacy of facemasks, expressed doubts about testing, and teased neighbouring countries which imposed health measures to curb the virus.

You may read: Tanzania: Does the country have a hidden epidemic?