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Tanzania's President John Magufuli who urged citizens 'to pray coronavirus away' has died

March 17, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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Tanzania's President John Magufuli, 61, has died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the country's vice president announced in a televised address on Wednesday. The announcement comes after weeks of speculation about his health.

(CNN)Tanzania's President John Magufuli has died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the country's vice president announced in a televised address on Wednesday.

"President John Magufuli died of a heart ailment that he has battled for over 10 years," Samia Suluhu Hassan said.

She added that the president had been receiving treatment at Mzena hospital since Sunday, and announced 14 days of national mourning.

Hassan is now the acting president of Tanzania.

While a date for her swearing-in has not yet been announced, she will be Tanzania's first female president.

After days of speculation that Magufuli was ill with Covid-19, the country's Prime Minister dispelled the rumors last week.

Kassim Majaliwa said he was surprised people were questioning the president's whereabouts, adding that the leader was "fine and continuing with his daily activities," as he spoke during a Friday prayer session at a mosque in the country's Njombe region, according to state broadcaster Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation.

Magufuli was one of Africa's most prominent Covid skeptics.

Early on in the pandemic, Magufuli dismissed the seriousness of coronavirus in Tanzania, urging his citizens to "pray coronavirus away," believing the "satanic virus can't live in the body of Jesus Christ," and blaming the growing number of positive cases on faulty test kits.

Known as "The Bulldozer" for his tough stance against corruption and for his hardline policies, Magufuli swept to victory in October 2015 as Tanzania's fifth president.

As news of the president's death emerged, opposition leader Zitto Kabwe offered his condolences to Magufuli's family.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta paid his respects to Magufuli in a televised address Thursday morning and declared a seven-day period of national mourning in Kenya.

in the passing on of President Magufuli, I have lost a friend, a colleague and a visionary ally whom I worked closely, particularly on our commitment to forge lasting bonds between Kenya and Tanzania," he said.

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