On Wednesday evening, the Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, brought the news of the death of President John Magufuli, who had been the subject of various speculations about his disappearance from public life, but the name of the successor is not yet known.
The opposition says that “the vice president must take office immediately,” as stipulated in the country’s constitution, but the government has postponed the decision and called a meeting for next Saturday.
“The constitution does not allow a vacuum. As soon as the president’s death has been officially announced, the next step will be the inauguration of the vice-president,” opposition leader Zitto Kabwe repeated this Thursday in an interview with Reuters.
According to the laws of Tanzania, the Vice President must continue to serve for the remainder of her term of office. If so, Samia Suluhu Hassan will run the country until 2025, becoming the first woman in Tanzania’s history to take over the government.
Hassan has praised and represented the president several times, but compared to Magufuli – also known as a “bulldozer” because of his authoritarian and repressive stance – he is still seen as a figure of more moderate ideas. Not only was he a well-known skeptic of the dangers of Covid-19, but he also discredited vaccines and devalued precautionary measures.
This succession can lead to “challenges in managing the interests” of the opposition and call into question the “necessary support within the party” of the government in order for it to continue to govern unhindered, stresses analyst Fergus Kell, quoted by Reuters.
The extraordinary meeting of the central government committee scheduled for Saturday casts doubt on Magufuli’s successor, but no other potential candidates are known.
Disappeared without a trace
Hassan’s possible inauguration follows the death of John Magufuli from heart disease announced Wednesday by the vice president after suffering from “chronic atrial fibrillation” for more than a decade, according to New York Times.
He also stated that the President was hospitalized at Dar es Salaam Main Public Hospital on March 6th after leaving a few days later, but returned on March 14th for “treatment”.
Magufuli, who was elected for the second time in a row last October, has not appeared publicly since February 27, according to Reuters, as he was the subject of an opposition-sponsored wave of speculation about his health. The main rumors were that he was infected with Covid-19 and was seeking treatment abroad.
In an interview with a Kenyan television, the opposition leader Tindu Lissu, who has been in exile in Belgium since the end of last year, takes the view that “Magufuli died of coronavirus” and continues: “Magufuli did not die tonight [de quarta-feira]I have information from the same sources that he was seriously ill and claims that “Magufuli has been dead since last Wednesday,” Al Jazeera said.
Last Friday, the government announced that its president was in good health and good work. On Monday she admitted a possible illness when the vice president said that “it is normal for a person to get flu, fever or some other illness”. Hassan added that “if there is a need to stay together, the time is now”.
In response to the rumors, the government has arrested four people since last weekend for spreading rumors and “false information” about the president’s health.
Text edited by António Saraiva Lima