Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, will become the country’s sixth President following the death of office holder John Pombe Magufuli.
Magufuli died on Wednesday, March 17 while receiving treatment for heart disease at the Emilio Mzena Memorial Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, VP Suluhu announced in a televised address.
Magufuli, who was re-elected for a second term on October 28, 2020, will now be succeeded by his principal assistant, Samia Suluhu, who will complete the remainder of the 5-year term.
Tanzania’s Constitution, however, does not reveal the period in which the VP should be sworn in as President in case the officer holder dies.
According to the Constitution, since Suluhu hails from Zanzibar, her deputy is required to come from the mainland.
Should Suluhu stay as President for three years or more, the law states that she will be allowed to run for the presidency only once.
Part 1, Section 37 (5) of the Constitution under the title The Executive of the United Republic of Tanzania states: “Where the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death resignation, loss of electoral qualifications or inability to perform his functions due to physical infirmity, or failure to discharge the duties and functions of the office of President, then the Vice-President shall be sworn in and become the President for the unexpired period of the term of five years and in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 40, and, after consultation with the political party to which he belongs, the President shall propose the name of the person who shall be Vice-President and such appointment shall be confirmed by the National Assembly by votes of not less than fifty percentum of all the Members of Parliament.”
While announcing Magufuli’s death on Wednesday night, Ms Suluhu said the Head of State had been battling a heart disease for 10 years.
“He (Magufuli) died today (Wednesday, March 17) at 6pm while receiving treatment for heart disease at Emilio Mzena Memorial Hospital in Dar es Salaam,” said Ms Suluhu in a televised address.
The VP said Magufuli, 61, had been taken ill since March 6, 2021.
Ms Suluhu said Tanzania will go into a 14-day mourning period and flags flown half-mast following the president’s death.
Opposition politicians said earlier this week that Magufuli had contracted COVID-19, but this has not been confirmed.
Magufuli was first elected to office in 2015, and on October 28, 2020 was re-elected to serve a second 5-year term.
Tanzania’s next general election will be held in 2025.