Samia Suluhu Hassan

Samia Suluhu Hassan: Tanzania’s first female president sworn in…

Samia Suluhu Hassan has become Tanzania’s first female leader after her predecessor, John Magufuli, was pronounced dead on Wednesday.

Ms Hassan, 61, was sworn in by Chief Justice Ibrahim Juma at the Government House in the capital Dar es Salaam.

The former vice president, who studied at Manchester University, was wearing a hijab and holding a Koran in her right hand, as she vowed to uphold the constitution of the East African country.

“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and to obey and protect the Tanzanian constitution,” the new leader said during a brief ceremony in the economic capital Dar es Salaam.

Applauded by the dignitaries present, including former President Jakaya Kikwete, she then proceeded to a troop review.

She joins a short list of women in Africa to have held their country’s highest office. The only other at the moment is Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, though the role there is largely ceremonial.

Ms Hassan’s inauguration comes two days after she announced the death of Mr Magufuli, who had not been seen in public for more than two weeks.

The 61-year-old mother of four from Zanzibar began her political career in the year 2000, and she was first appointed to the national cabinet by former President Jakaya Kikwete.

She is the sixth Tanzanian president after more than five years as Magufuli’s deputy, who died of a heart attack.

Tanzania’s constitution stipulates that the 61-year-old will serve a second five-year term.

Until 2025

According to the Tanzanian constitution, this 61-year-old Muslim from the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar must remain in power until the expected end of John Magufuli’s mandate, in 2025.

She is now one of the two women currently in power in Africa, along with the Ethiopian Sahle-Work Zewde, whose functions are honorary.

Samia Suluhu Hassan, running mate of John Magufuli in the elections won in 2015 and 2020, announced on television on Wednesday evening the death of the head of state, aged 61. The latter, who had not appeared in public since February 27, officially died Wednesday of heart problems.

Future vice-president

The Tanzanian constitution provides that Samia Suluhu Hassan proposes a vice-president, “after consultation with the party to which (she) belongs”, the CCM (Chama cha Mapinduzi). This choice must then be validated by a vote of the national assembly, in the presence of at least 50% of the deputies.

The CCM called an extraordinary meeting of its central committee on Saturday.

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