Mourners pay tribute to late Tanzanian President John Magufuli | Tanzania News

Senior officials, including new President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and supporters of the ruling party attend the service at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Mourners in Tanzania have taken to the streets of the country’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, to pay their respects to President John Magufuli, days after the government announced his death after nearly three weeks missing from public view.

On Saturday, people cried and threw flower petals as the coffin, towed on a gun cart by a military vehicle and draped in the Tanzanian flag, was moved from a church to Uhuru Stadium where religious leaders recited prayers at a service attended by senior officials and supporters. by Magufuli.

“Before seeing the coffin, I didn’t think our president was really dead,” said florist Pauline Attony after watching the procession go by.

Mourners included Magufuli’s successor to the presidency, the country’s former vice president Samia Suluhu Hassan.

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, center, arrives at Uhuru Stadium to pay tribute to her [AP Photo]

Hassan, who was sworn On Friday, to become the country’s first female president, led a government procession past the coffin, offering condolences to Magufuli’s wife.

“It’s too early for you to leave, father. You touched our lives and we still needed you, ”said grieving person Beatrice Edward. “We have lost our defender,” said another, Suleiman Mbonde, a trader.

Many wore black or the green and yellow colors of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, but few inside the stadium or among the crowded crowd outside wore face masks.

The soldiers carry the coffin of Magufuli [AP Photo]

Skeptical coronavirus

Hassan announced on Wednesday that Magufuli, 61, had died of heart disease. His unexplained absence – the government had denied he was ill and several people had been arrested for spreading rumors about his health – fueled speculation he was being treated for coronavirus abroad.

Tundu Lissu, the main Tanzanian opposition leader, who lives in exile in Belgium, insists that according to his sources, Magufuli had died a week earlier from the disease he had long played down.

The service at Uhuru Stadium was attended by senior officials and Magufuli supporters [Emmanuel Herman/Reuters]

Magufuli had long denied that COVID-19 was a problem in Tanzania.

He had said prayer had rid the country of the disease, refused masks or lockdowns, stopped the publication of case statistics and defended alternative medicine, calling vaccines “dangerous.”

But by February, cases had skyrocketed.

After a number of senior officials died – officially from respiratory problems and pneumonia – the president popularly known as the “Bulldozer” had to admit that the virus was still circulating and indeed posed a danger.

Tanzanian People’s Defense Force (TPDF) personnel place national flag on coffin of fifth Tanzanian President John Magufuli during state funeral [STR/AFP]

While Hassan says she will pick up where Magufuli left off, many hope she will usher in a change in leadership style from her predecessor, under whose reign there was a severe crackdown on the opposition, the media and civil society.

All eyes will be on how he deals with the pandemic.

On Saturday, the new president called a special meeting of the CCM but it ended without news of the appointment of a new deputy.

Under the constitution, the 61-year-old will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.

She announced a 21 day mourning period. The late president will remain in the state in several locations across Tanzania ahead of his funeral next Friday in his hometown of Chato.

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