Tanzania: Samia Suluhu Hassan – Tanzania’s Next and First Woman President

Following Wednesday’s death of Tanzanian President John Magufuli, attention is shifting to his successor.

The next in line, according to Tanzania’s Constitution, is the vice president. That would make Samia Suluhu Hassan the first female leader of the East African nation since its independence from Britain in late 1961.

There was no indication as of Thursday that Hassan has been sworn in as president.

“It is too early to talk about that … after the loss of our great leader,” Wilson Masilingi, Tanzania’s ambassador to the United States, told VOA in a brief phone call Thursday. “… We are grieving now. … We can’t even talk about succession.”

Asked who was leading the country, he said, “The vice president is in an acting capacity, according to our Constitution. … It is a constitutionally governed country.”

The ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), has announced a special meeting of its central committee set for Saturday, according to the Reuters news service.

Hassan, 61, has served as vice president since Magufuli’s election in 2015. He won a second five-year term in last October’s election that his political rivals and the United States criticized for irregularities.

Hassan, a CCM member, would be expected to complete Magufuli’s second term. She announced his death Wednesday, attributing it to heart problems. The president, outspoken in dismissing any threat of the coronavirus, had been out of public view since February 27.