Tanzanian President John Magufuli has died aged 61 from a heart condition, his vice president said in an address on state television Wednesday, after days of uncertainty over his health and whereabouts.
“It is with deep regret that I inform you that today on the 17th of March, 2021 at 6 pm we lost our brave leader, the President of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli,” said Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
She said Magufuli had died of a “heart condition”, which he has suffered for a decade, at the Emilio Mzena Memorial Hospital in Dar es Salaam.
Confirmation of Magufuli’s death comes after weeks of uncertainty and wild rumours over his absence, as he was last seen in public on February 27.
Ms Suluhu said Tanzania will go into a 14-day mourning period and flags flown half-mast following the president’s death.
Opposition politicians said earlier this week that Magufuli had contracted COVID-19, but this has not been confirmed.
Magufuli had for months insisted the virus no longer existed in Tanzania, and had been fended off by prayer.
Magufuli, who was re-elected for a second term on 28 October 2020, will now be succeeded by Vice-President Suluhu Hassan, 61, who will complete the remainder of the 5-year term. She will become the country’s sixth President.
Part 1, Section 37 (5) of the Constitution under the title The Executive of the United Republic of Tanzania states: “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 and in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 40, and, after consultation with the political party to which he belongs, the President shall propose the name of the person who shall be Vice-President and such appointment shall be confirmed by the National Assembly by votes of not less than fifty percentum of all the Members of Parliament.”