Tanzanian President John Magufuli has died, the country’s vice president has announced on state television, after weeks of uncertainty over his health and whereabouts.
In a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday, 17, March, Vice President Samia Suluhu said the 61-year-old president had died of a “heart condition”, which he has suffered for a decade, at a hospital in Dar-Es-Salaam.
“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,” she said.
She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half-mast.
Magufuli had first been briefly admitted to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute on March 6, but was subsequently discharged, Hassan said. But he rushed to the hospital again on March 14 after feeling unwell.
Magufuli had last appeared in public on February 27 and top government officials had denied that he was in ill health, even as speculation swirled online that he was sick and possibly incapacitated from illness.
Magufuli had long downplayed the severity of Covid-19, urging Tanzanians to pray, use steam inhalation and embrace local remedies to protect themselves from the respiratory disease.
Tanzania stopped releasing infection numbers in April 2020, weeks before Magufuli declared the country coronavirus-free in June through divine intervention.
He refused to wear a face-mask or take lockdown measures. But a week before he was last seen, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating, after the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died of Covid-19.
On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president was ill.
Nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, Magufuli was elected in 2015 on promises to tackle corruption and boost infrastructure development. He won a second term in a disputed poll last year.