Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, made history Friday when she was sworn in as Tanzania’s first female president two days after the death was announced of her controversial predecessor, John Magufuli, who denied that COVID-19 is a problem in the East African country.
Wearing a hijab and holding up a Quran with her right hand, Hassan took the oath of office at State House, the government offices in Dar es Salaam, the country’s largest city.
Hassan succeeds Magufuli, who had not been seen in public for more than two weeks before his passing was announced. Magufuli had denied that COVID-19 was a problem in Tanzania, saying that national prayer had eradicated the disease from the country. But weeks before his death, Magufuli acknowledged the virus was a danger.
The inauguration was witnessed by Cabinet members and Tanzania's former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Jakaya Kikwete and Abeid Karume. The former heads of state were among the few people in the room wearing facemasks to protect against COVID-19.
Although Hassan announced that Magufuli died of heart failure, exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu says the president died of COVID-19, citing informed medical sources in Dar es Salaam.