By Reuters Staff
NAIROBI, March 17 (Reuters) - Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Wednesday announced the death of President John Magufuli on state television. He was 61.
“The President of the United Republic of Tanzania, the honourable Doctor John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, ... (has) died of a heart condition, at hospital Mzena in Dar es Salaam, where he was receiving treatment,” she said on state broadcaster TBC.
Magufuli, one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, had not been seen in public since Feb. 27, sparking speculation that he had contracted COVID-19. Officials denied on March 12 that he had fallen ill.
Government officials had said Magufuli was working normally and citizens should ignore rumours from outside the country.
Some Tanzanians had told Reuters on condition of anonymity that fear and anxiety were widespread in the country due to the unknown status of the president. Police had arrested four people in the country since last week for allegedly spreading false information about the sickness of political leaders.
The president had denounced measures to stop the spread of the virus and called vaccines a Western conspiracy, frustrating the World Health Organisation (WHO). (Reporting by Nairobi newsroom Writing by Maggie Fick Editing by Howard Goller)