President of Tanzania John Magufuli dies

TANZANIA’S President John Pombe Magufuli has died.

His death was disclosed tonight by Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Sulhu Hassan in a special address on state television. Hassan said Magufuli succumbed to a heart disease. 

The announcement came days after speculation grew that Magufuli, 61, a vocal COVID-19 sceptic, is ill with the coronavirus, though government officials had claimed that Magufuli was working normally and citizens should ignore rumours from outside the country.

Hours before the announcement, Hassan, on a visit, had  said Magufuli had asked her to remind them to maintain peace and develop the region.

“…I would like to send you greetings from our president who has asked me that when I’m in Tanga I should remind you to continue maintaining peace and tranquillity and work hard to fast track your regional development so that investors can stay here forever,” said Hassan, according to state television.

She also said the president had asked her to thank the people for voting for him in last year’s election. Hassan did not specifically mention the president’s health in her remarks.

Magufuli was last seen in public at an event in Dar es Salaam on February 27. On Tuesday, an opposition leader urged the government to tell the public about the president’s health, saying citizens had the right to know about his condition.

Some Tanzanians have told Reuters on condition of anonymity that fear and anxiety are widespread in the country due to the unknown status of the president. Police have arrested four people in the country since last week for allegedly spreading false information about the sickness of political leaders.

The president has denounced measures to stop the spread of the virus and called vaccines a Western conspiracy, frustrating the World Health Organisation.

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