Following the death of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli’s on Wednesday, his deputy, Samia Suluhu, has been sworn in as the country’s first female president.
The 61-year-old Suluhu was sworn in on Friday in an inauguration witnessed by members of the Cabinet and Tanzania’s former presidents, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Jakaya Kikwete and Abeid Karume.
The new President, took the oath of office in Dar-es-Salaam before inspecting troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute.
Before stepping out to inspect a military guard of honour, Suluhu took the oath with the words:
“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and obey and protect the constitution of Tanzania,” she said before a room of dignitaries, who applauded when the brief ceremony was complete.
Under the Tanzanian constitution, Suluhu will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term which does not expire until 2025.
Hassan’s inauguration comes two days after she announced the death of Magufuli who had not been seen in public for more than two weeks.
In her first public address, she announced a 21-day mourning period for Magufuli and public holidays on March 22 and on his burial day which has been fixed for March 25.
“It’s not a good day for me to talk to you because I have a wound in my heart. Today, I have taken an oath different from the rest that I have taken in my career. Those were taken in happiness. Today, I took the highest oath of office in mourning,” she said to journalists after her inauguration.
She added that Magufuli ‘who always liked teaching’ had prepared her for the task ahead.
“Nothing shall go wrong,” she assured, urging all the country’s people to work to unite the nation.
“This is the time to stand together and get connected. It’s time to bury our differences, show love to one another and look forward with confidence. It is not the time to point fingers at each other but to hold hands and move forward to build the new Tanzania that President Magufuli aspired to.”
A native of the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean, Suluhu rose through the ranks over a 20-year political career from local government to the national assembly.
A stalwart in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), she was named Magufuli’s running mate in the 2015 presidential campaign and the pair were re-elected in October last year in a disputed poll marred by allegations of irregularities.
She is the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial as she must consult the party about appointing a new vice president.
Suluhu was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to announce that Magufuli had died from a heart condition after a mysterious three-week absence from public view.