John Magufuli, Tanzania Leader Who Played Down Covid, Dies at 61

NAIROBI, Kenya – Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, a populist leader who downplayed the severity of the coronovirus epidemic and drove his country away from democratic ideals, died on Wednesday. In the port city of Dar es Salaam. He was 61.

Vice President Samiya Suluhu Hassan said in a very brief address that Mr Magufuli had died of heart complications while undergoing treatment at Mazena Hospital. Post announcement More than a week of intense speculation Mr Magufuli was seriously ill with Kovid-19 – reports that senior government officials repeatedly denied.

Ms Hassan did not specify Mr Magufuli’s underlying disease, but said she had been suffering from chronic atrial fibrillation for more than a decade. He declared a 14-day national mourning and said that the flags would be flown on half the employees of the country.

According to the Tanzanian constitution, Ms. Hassan will be sworn in as president for a five-year term, which was started by Mr. Magufuli when he won re-election last October. The move will make her the first female leader of Tanzania.

Mr. Magufuli was a trained chemist First time selected In October 2015 on an anticorruption platform. He was initially lauded for his efforts to strengthen the economy, waste money, and upgrade Tanzania’s infrastructure.

But the leader, known as the “bulldozer”, was soon accused of expressing disagreements, bringing back freedom of expression and association, and pushing through laws that ended his party’s grip on power. done.

That Marked a sharp departure from the policies of his two immediate predecessors, Who promoted their East African nation as a peaceful, business-friendly democracy.

During his first term, Mr. Magufuli’s government banned opposition rallies, revoked the licenses of non-governmental organizations and introduced laws that critics said were independent reporting repressed. He also said that Pregnant girls should not be allowed to attend school.

Rights groups accused his government of failing to conduct credible investigations into the murder, kidnapping and harassment of journalists who were critical of the government and opposition figures.

As Mr. Magufuli demanded last fall, officials made it difficult for opposition parties to campaign, freeze the bank accounts of civil society groups, deny election observers and journalists recognition, and Opposition representatives refused to go to polling stations.

On the day of voting, at least 10 people were killed when violence erupted in Zanzibar’s semi-autonomous archipelago Citizens said they saw soldiers distributing marked ballots.

Mr. Magufuli He won the election With 84 percent of the vote Amid allegations of widespread fraud and irregularities. The main opposition candidate running against him was Tundu Lisu Accused of overthrowing the government And had to leave the country. He remained in exile in Belgium.

In the past year, Mr. Magufuli has faced intense criticism at home and abroad for dealing with the coronovirus epidemic. He promoted raids against masks and social distinctions, unsafe treatment as a form of treatment and stated that God helped the country eliminate the virus.

Tanzania has not shared data on coronovirus with the World Health Organization since April, and has reported just 509 cases and 21 deaths, a figure widely viewed with skepticism.

As soon as the worldwide vaccine rollouts began, Mr. Magufuli discouraged Tanzania from dosing to the Ministry of Health.

“Vaccines do not work,” he claimed In a masked mob speech In late January. “If the white man were able to come up with vaccination, then vaccines for AIDS would have been brought. Vaccines for tuberculosis may have made it a thing of the past. Malaria vaccines may have been introduced. Must have received cancer vaccines. “

Such statements condemned the World Health Organization as well as the Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania. WHO’s Regional Director for Africa Drs. Matsidiso Moiti urged the Tanzanian government to create an infrastructure to distribute the supplements, Writing on twitter, “Science shows that #VaccinesWork.”

In February, the United States Embassy in Tanzania Warn “A significant increase in the number of Kovid-19 cases” and stated that “limited hospital capacity in Tanzania may result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care.”

Mr Magufuli died after speculation that he was ill with the virus. Rumors started circulating After Mr Lisu, the opposing man in exile, the president said that Kovid was -19 and was being treated at a hospital in neighboring Kenya.

Mr. Lisu urged officials to disclose the president’s whereabouts, which had not been seen publicly for nearly two weeks. Mr Magufuli did not attend a virtual summit for the leaders of the East African Regional Bloc on 27 February.

The speculation was rejected by the Tanzanian authorities, saying that Mr Magufuli was acting as usual.

Following the announcement of Mr Magufuli’s death on Wednesday, the leader of opposition party ACT Vezalendo called on Tanzanians to show “patience and understanding” as the country is going through an important transitional period.

“This is an unprecedented moment,” leader of the opposition party, Zitto Kabwe, Said in a statement, “One that will undoubtedly advance all of us in a very personal way.”

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli was born on 29 October 1959, in the district of Chato, now in northwestern Tanzania and was then known as Tanzanika. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Dar es Salaam University and a doctorate in chemistry from the same university in 2009. According to the website of the President’s office.

Prior to becoming president, he was a member of the Parliament of Tanzania and held several cabinet positions. He developed a reputation for fighting corruption while working in cabinet posts as Minister of Land, Fisheries and Public Works.

Mr. Magufuli is survived by his wife, Janet, an elementary-school teacher; And two children.

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