Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died aged 61, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Wednesday after a more than two-week absence from public life that led to speculation about his health.
The president died from the heart disease that had plagued him for a decade.
“Dear Tanzanians, it is sad to announce that today 17 March 2021 around 6 p.m. we lost our brave leader, President John Magufuli who died from heart disease at Mzena hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was getting treatment,” the vice president said on state broadcaster TBC.
Burial arrangements were under way and announced 14 days of mourning and the flying of flags at half staff, Samia said, with country’s state television broadcasting mournful and religious songs.
Magufuli was Tanzania’s first president to die while in office.
After the death was announced, opposition leader Zitto Kabwe said he had spoken to Vice President Hassan to offer condolences for Magufuli’s death.
“The nation will remember him for his contribution to the development of our country,” Kabwe said in a statement published on Twitter.
According to Tanzania’s Constitution, Vice President Hassan, 61, should assume the presidency for the remainder of the five-year term that Magufuli began serving last year after winning a second term. She would be the the nation’s first female president.