John Pombe Magufuli
John Magufuli

OBINNA EZUGWU

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli has died at 61.

His death was confirmed by the Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan in a televised statement.

She said that Mr Magufuli died on Wednesday at 6p.m. from heart complications, at a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

The two week absence of the president from public functions had ignited speculations across social media, though local media had reported last week Mr. Magufuli had been admitted in the hospital.

Mr. Magufuli was last seen in public on February 27 at the swearing-in ceremony of his chief of staff at the State House government offices in Dar es Salaam.

Magufuli was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995 and served in the Cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works for a second time from 2010 to 2015.

Running as the candidate of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the country’s dominant party, he won the October 2015 presidential election and was sworn in on 5 November 2015. Magufuli ran on a platform of reducing government corruption and spending while also investing in Tanzania’s industries, but had been accused of having increasing autocratic tendencies brought on by restrictions on freedom of speech and a crackdown on members of the political opposition

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