Muscat: Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, 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.
Magufuli had not been seen in public since Feb. 27, sparking rumors that he had contracted COVID-19. Officials denied on March 12 that he had fallen ill. He was Tanzania’s first president to die while in office.
“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.
She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.
According to Tanzania’s constitution, Ms Hassan will be sworn in as the new president and should serve the remainder of Magufuli’s five-year term which he began last year.