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Tanzanian President John Magufuli died at the age of 61 from a heart condition, his vice president announced on state television Wednesday, ending days of speculation about his health and whereabouts.
“It is with great disappointment that I inform you that today, March 17, 2021, at 6 p.m., we lost our courageous king, President of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli,” vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan said.
She said Magufuli died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam of a “heart disease” he had been suffering from for a decade.
He had first been briefly admitted to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute on March 6, but was subsequently discharged, Hassan said.
But Magufuli had again felt unwell and was on March 14 rushed to hospital again.
Confirmation of Magufuli’s death comes after weeks of uncertainty and wild rumours over his absence, as he was last seen in public on February 27.
Opposition leader Tundu Lissu had raised questions about his health, citing sources that the president was suffering from Covid-19.
Magufuli, who was first elected in 2015 and then again in a disputed poll last year, had for months insisted the virus no longer existed in Tanzania, and had been fended off by prayer.
He refused to wear a face-mask or take lockdown measures.
But a week before he was last seen, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating, after the vice-president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died of Covid-19.