Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, died aged 61, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Wednesday after a more than two-week absence from public life that led to speculation about his health.
She said he died from the heart disease that had plagued him for a decade. She said burial arrangements were under way and announced 14 days of mourning and the flying of flags at half-staff.
Magufuli had not been seen in public since Feb. 27, sparking rumours that he had contracted COVID-19. Officials denied on March 12 that he had fallen ill and on Monday the vice president urged Tanzanians not to listen to rumours from outside the country and said it was normal for a human being to be checked for the flu or fever.
On Friday, Vice President Samia Hassan became first female president to assume the post in the East African nation.