Africa News

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli Dies at 61 amid Covid-19 Rumours

Tanzanian officials have confirmed that President John Pombe Magufuli has died.

Magufuli, 61, was confirmed dead on Wednesday in a televised announcement by Mrs Samiya Suluhu, the country’s Vice President.

“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,” Vice-President Hassan said in the announcement.

Mr Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about his health.

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

Hassan noted that there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.

Mr Magufuli was declared president on his 56th birthday in October 2015. He was elected for a second term following a disputed poll last year.

He was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.

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Tanzania has not published details of its coronavirus cases since May, and the government has refused to purchase vaccines.

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

On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president was ill.


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