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No masks as Samia Suluhu sworn in as Tanzania’s first female president

Samia Suluhu was on Friday sworn in as the sixth president of the East African country after the sudden death of President John Magufuli due to what she termed heart complications.

The swearing-in ceremony took place at State House in Dar es Salaam.

“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and obey and protect the constitution of Tanzania,” said Suluhu, dressed in a black suit and red headscarf before dignitaries at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam.

What was peculiar during the ceremony was that no one was wearing a mask despite the late president in February asking citizens to ‘wear locally manufactured masks’ and take health safety precautions amid fears of Covid-19 spread and a surge in confirmed cases.

Suluhu ascended to power after President Magufuli’s death on Wednesday, more than two weeks after he was last seen in public leaving speculations on his health and whereabouts.

Magufuli’s absence since February 27 had fuelled rumours that he had contracted Covid-19, claims government officials have denied vehemently until his death was officially confirmed.

He was a vocal Covid-19 sceptic who urged Tanzanians to shun mask-wearing and denounced vaccines as a Western conspiracy, frustrating the World Health Organisation (WHO) efforts to contain the pandemic.

According to Tanzania’s Constitution, the vice president serves out the remainder of the term of a president who dies in office.

Magufuli, 61, who was first elected in 2015, secured a second five-year term in polls in October last year.

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