Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is dead. The head of state died of heart failure in a hospital in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, said Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Previously, his lengthy absence from the public had fueled speculation that the head of state, who had been in office since 2015, was ill. The 61-year-old had long denied the existence of Covid-19 in the East African country and downplayed the risk of the corona virus.

The former German colony with its around 58 million inhabitants has not published the number of new infections since May 2020. According to the constitution, the vice-president will now assume the highest office in the country until the next election in 2025. Only last year Magufuli had won a controversial presidential election.

During the corona pandemic, Magufuli questioned the credibility of corona tests and recommended prayers and steam baths. Magufuli – sometimes called the “bulldozer” because of his uncompromising leadership style – urged the Ministry of Health to be careful with vaccines developed abroad and questioned how they could have been developed so quickly. Unlike in many other African countries, where foreign holidaymakers arriving by plane had to go into quarantine for several days last year, he opened the East African country to tourism.

The opposition politician Tundu Lissu, who lives in exile, recently sparked speculation on Twitter about Magufuli’s disease of Covid-19. “With his devastated Covid denial, his prayer-instead-science craze has proven a deadly boomerang,” he wrote. According to his information, Magufuli was seriously ill and first taken to a hospital in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for treatment and then to India.

Magufuli, who came to power in 2015, polarized the East African country. He was supported by proponents, among other things, because of his strong and uncompromising leadership style, large infrastructure projects and promises to fight corruption. Critics, however, condemned his increasing restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression as well as his handling of the corona pandemic. The human rights record in Tanzania has steadily declined under Magufuli, judged the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The politician was born on October 29, 1959 in the western Chato district and first became a teacher before earning his doctorate in chemistry at the University of Dar es Salaam and then going into politics.

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