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Samia Suluhu sworn in as Tanzanian first female president

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Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan was on Friday sworn in as the country’s first female president after the sudden death of John Magufuli from an illness shrouded in mystery.

Hassan, 61, a soft-spoken Muslim woman from the island of Zanzibar, will finish Magufuli’s second five-year term, set to run until 2025.

Wearing a bright red headscarf, Hassan was sworn in as the country’s sixth president, at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, where neither she nor the majority of attendees wore a mask, in the Covid-sceptic nation.

“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and obey and protect the constitution of Tanzania,” said the new president, as she took the oath of office before inspecting troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute.

She becomes the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.

Hassan was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to announce that Magufuli had died aged 61 from a heart condition after a mysterious three -eek absence from public view.

But questions have been raised over the true cause of his death, after multiple rumours that Magufuli — one of the world’s most fervent Covid-sceptic leaders — had caught the virus and had sought treatment abroad.

Main opposition leader Tundu Lissu insists his sources said Magufuli had Covid-19 and had actually died a week ago.

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And Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, which last week reported an “African leader”, in clear reference to Magufuli, was in a Nairobi hospital, on Friday gave more details of his illness, also indicating Magufuli had in fact died last week.

Citing sources, the paper said Magufuli was discharged from Nairobi Hospital on life support after it was determined he could not be resuscitated, and returned to Dar es Salaam where he died last Thursday.

The paper details his initial evacuation to Nairobi on March 8 in a medical plane, as he suffered “acute cardiac and respiratory illnesses.”

The main question hanging over the new president is whether she will usher in a change in leadership style from her predecessor, nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, notably in the handling of the pandemic.

– ‘A new chapter’ –
Magufuli leaves behind a complex legacy, after a swing to authoritarianism which saw him crack down on the media, activists and free speech, while refusing to take any measures against Covid-19.

He called for prayer instead of face masks, refused to publish case statistics or implement lockdown measures, and championed alternative medicines.

In May last year he revealed a papaya, quail and goat had tested positive for the virus in a secret operation, proving “sabotage” at the national laboratory.

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However by February, as cases soared and the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died from Covid-19, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating.

The opposition and rights groups have urged Hassan to change course.

“As we continue mourning, let us use this period to open up a new chapter for rebuilding national unity and respect to freedom, justice, rule of law, democracy and people-centred development,” said Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of opposition group Chadema, in a statement Thursday.

He urged Hassan to “lead the nation toward reconciliation”.

Meanwhile Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the new government “has a chance for a fresh start by ending problematic past practices.”

– ‘Hold your breath’ –
However analysts say Hassan will face early pressure from powerful Magufuli allies within the party, who dominate intelligence and other critical aspects of government, and would try and steer her decisions and agenda.

“For those who were kind of expecting a breakaway from the Magufuli way of things I would say hold your breath at the moment,” said Thabit Jacob, a researcher at the Roskilde University in Denmark and expert on Tanzania.

Hailing from Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island in the Indian Ocean, Hassan rose through the ranks over a 20-year political career from local government to the national assembly.

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A ruling party stalwart, she was named Magufuli’s running mate in the 2015 presidential campaign. The pair were re-elected in October last year in a disputed poll marred by allegations of irregularities.

Hassan must consult the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) about appointing a new vice president. The party is set to hold a special meeting of its central committee on Saturday.

Tanzania is observing a 14-day mourning period and details on Magufuli’s funeral have yet to be announced.

Magufuli is the second East African leader to die under mysterious circumstances.

Burundi’s equally Covid-sceptic leader, Pierre Nkurunziza, died from “heart failure” last June after his wife was flown to Nairobi to be treated for coronavirus.

 

 

 

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Politics

PDP Governors Forum makes case for restructuring, devolution of power

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Nigerian governors elected on the political platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday called for devolution of power and comprehensive restructuring of the country.

The PDP governors , who met in   Benue State, in a communique jointly signed argued that the call became pertinent seeing that Nigerians have now been sharply divided along lines of ethnic and religious biases.

They noted that many persons are now exploiting the nation’s fault lines.

Chairman of the forum cum governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal briefing journalists at the government house Makurdi, the Benue state capital after a five hours-long closed-door meeting emphasized that insecurity and the value of human life have greatly degenerated under the watch of the APC led government.

The meeting, hosted by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, had in attendance Governor Nyesom Wike of River State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, Ahmadu Fintri of Adamawa state, Duoye Diri of Bayelsa state,Darius Ishaku of Taraba state, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and Senator Wali Jubril, the PDP board of trustees chairman while Bauchi State governor was represented by his deputy.

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2023: Tinubu’s presidential bid receives major boost, as Fasoranti declares support {Video}

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The Presidential bid of former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday got a major boost, following the decision of a prominent Yoruba leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti to support his candidacy in 2023.

Fasoranti, made the declaration while playing host to the Senator ‘Dayo Adeyeye -led South West Agenda ‘23, SWAGA- a group working for the aspiration of Tinubu, to his Akure home.

The group had earlier visited the elder statesman minutes after arriving from tour of Igbokoda, Ore, Ikale and Ondo towns to inform their monarchs of Tinubu’s ambition.

SWAGA is populated by former lawmakers, politicians, loyalists and supporters of the APC within the six southwest states promoting Tinubu’s presidential ambition.

The ex-Afenifere leader, while addressing the group recalled how almost a year ago he assured Tinubu of his support.

“Almost a year ago, I told him (Tinubu) that he has my total support. Judging from his performances, his activities, there is no other person that can do it except him (Tinubu). My prayer is that God Almighty will grant his request and heart desire, and when he eventually becomes the president, I am confident that he will do what we want. May your journey bear a fruitful outcome,” Pa Fasoranti said.

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The group, during its separate visits to monarchs in Ondo South and Central senatorial districts, had earlier expressed support for power shift to Southwest.

At the palace of the Abodi of Ikale in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State, Oba George Faduyile, said he supported the idea of Bola Tinubu becoming president, stressing that the former Lagos governor is the most qualified and prepared to succeed President Buhari in 2023.

Oba Faduyile further noted that, even though the Southwest is endowed with politicians who could succeed Buhari, Tinubu’s track records stood him out and made him remained the best among the bests.

Also commenting, Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Victor Kiladejo advised the SWAGA group to be united to succeed.

The monarch, who spoke through one of his High Chiefs, the Odofin of Ondo Kingdom, High Chief Akinsola Olaniyan, urged the SWAGA team to help Tinubu achieve his ambition.

SWAGA chairman, Senator Adeyeye, said the presidency rotation was between the North and the South and not any geopolitical zones. The former Minister of State for Works, also explained that the Southwest was well placed to produce President Buhari’s successor.

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Tinubu’s loyalists arrive in Ondo to launch SWAGA

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Loyalists to the former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed on Tuesday announced a significant expansion of networks within the Southwest region as all is set for the launch of the South West Agenda ‘23 (SWAGA) in Ondo state.

The group of rainbow coalition of like minded politicians of South West extraction led by former Minister of State for Works, Sen. Dayo Adeyeye is also billed to visit some traditional rulers in the state.

Also , in the train are Sen. Adesoji Akanbi, Sen. Tony Adeniyi, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, Hon. Rotimi Makinde,Hon. Bosun Oladele, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, Alhaja Kafilat Ogbara, Hon. Deji Jakande, Hon. Lanre Odubote, Hon. Ola Ofe and Hon. Akintoye Albert.

According to the group’s Chairman, Adeyeye, “we would be paying a courtesy visit to our amiable Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, as well as visiting our royal fathers and custodians of culture which include, Olugbo of Igbokoda, Abodi of Ikale, Osemawe of Ondo , Olukare of Ikare, Olowo of Owo and Deji of Akure”.

Speaking further, the former AD publicist added that the Ondo state chapter of SWAGA would be inaugurated on Thursday at the Dome Akure.

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