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Tanzania swears in Hassan as first female president

Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been sworn in as president, becoming the first female head of state in the east African country.

Mrs. Hassan’s inauguration took place on Friday after the death from heart disease of president John Magufuli, Africa’s most vocal COVID-19 sceptic.

Sixty-one-year-old Mrs. Hassan took the oath of office at State House in the country’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

She assumes the presidency following Wednesday’s announcement of the death of Mr. Magufuli after more than a two-week absence from public life that drew speculation about his health.

In a statement, the presidency announced that Mrs. Hassan would address the nation after being sworn in and would also hold a cabinet meeting.

The absence of sixty-one-year-old Mr. Magufuli since February 27 had sparked rumours he had contracted COVID-19, although officials had denied he was ill.

Mrs. Hassan later said he had died of heart disease.

Tanzania’s new president is widely considered a soft-spoken consensus-builder. She is also the country’s first president born in Zanzibar, the archipelago that forms part of the union of the Republic of Tanzania.

Her leadership style is seen as a potential contrast from Mr. Magufuli, a brash populist who earned the nickname ‘Bulldozer’ for muscling through policies and who drew criticism for his intolerance of dissent.

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