After the sudden death of John Magufuli from an illness that remains a mystery, Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as Tanzania’s first female president on Friday.
The 61-year-old took the oath of office in Dar es Salaam, wearing a black suit and a red headscarf, before reviewing troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute.
Sworn in minutes ago, meet Tanzania's First Female President – Samia Hassan Suhulu. The expections to heal a deeply divided Tanzania are evidently high. We wish her well.
The Future is female!!! pic.twitter.com/FUFeMbiYhi
— Joseph Kalimbwe (@joseph_kalimbwe) March 19, 2021
Members of the Cabinet and former Tanzanian presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Jakaya Kikwete, and Abeid Karume were present at the inauguration. Only the former heads of state in the room wore facemasks to shield themselves from COVID-19.
To protect themselves from COVID-19, everyone in the room wore facemasks.
Hassan then went outside to check out a military honor guard.
“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, swear to be truthful and to obey and protect Tanzania’s constitution,” she said in front of a room full of dignitaries, who cheered when the ceremony was over.
According to the constitution, Hassan will complete Magufuli’s second five-year term, which will not end until 2025.
Samia Suhulu Hassan, first female Tanzanian president fire female president in East Africa.
Next time it should be directly through a vote. Am happy to be part of a generation that sees this new change. pic.twitter.com/KpJ4Vt9EK8
— OWERE HANNINGTON (@HANNINGTONOWERE) March 19, 2021
Hassan’s inauguration comes just two days after she announced President John Magufuli’s death, two weeks after he went missing. She proclaimed 21 days of mourning for Magufuli and national mourning in her first public holidays on March 22 and on March 25, the day of his burial.
“It’s not a good day for me to speak to you because I have a heart wound,” Hassan said. Today, I took an oath that is unlike any other I have taken in my career. Those were taken with joy. ‘Today, in mourning, I took the highest oath of office,” she said.
Magufuli, she said, had trained her for the mission ahead because he “really liked teaching.” ‘Nothing can go wrong,’ she promised, asking everyone in the world to work together to bring the country together.
“Now is the time to band together and form bonds. It’s time to put our differences aside, show each other respect, and move forward with trust, she said. “Now is not the time to point fingers at one another, but rather to join hands and work together to create the new Tanzania that President Magufuli envisioned.”
While we are happy for the first female president, our neighbours will be welcoming the first female president in east,central and southern Africa only the second after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia came in Joyce Banda of Malawi now we have Samia Suhulu of Tanzania next .
— Bobby Brayans Kiprotich. (@BobbyBrayans) March 18, 2021
Hassan rose through the ranks of Zanzibar’s semi-autonomous island in the Indian Ocean over a 20-year political career, from local government to the national assembly.
She was elected Magufuli’s running mate in the 2015 presidential campaign. She is a stalwart of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
In a controversial election marred by fraud charges, the pair were re-elected in October of last year.
She is Africa’s only other current female head of state, alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, who serves primarily in a ceremonial capacity.
In order to name a new vice president, she must meet with the rest of the party. Analysts suggest she may be manipulated by influential Magufuli allies within the CCM, who monitor intelligence and other vital facets of government.
The conversations surrounding H.E Samia Suhulu as 1st female president in the EAC are where I’m getting my laughs.
– Sylvie Kinigi was acting president
– it’s was 1993 Burundi wasn’t in the EAC then
– wait how about Ethiopia? Not EA
– someone even mentioned Malawi
— El!zabeth ✨ (@lizmutesi) March 19, 2021
Hassan was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to reveal that Magufuli, who had been missing for three weeks, had died of a heart attack at the age of 61.
After numerous rumors that he had COVID-19 or sought care abroad, questions remain about the true cause of his death.