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Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in as Tanzania's first female president

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Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in as Tanzania's first female president
Samia Suluhu Hassan is sworn in as the sixth president of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Friday. Photo by Anthony Siame/EPA-EFE

March 19 (UPI) -- Tanzania swore in Samia Suluhu Hassan as its first female president Friday after the death of John Magufuli at 61.

Hassan, who served under Magufuli as vice president, said Wednesday he died in Dar es Salaam of heart complications during treatment at Mzena Hospital. She said he suffered from chronic atrial fibrillation for more than a decade.

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"This is a time to bury our differences, and be one as a nation," Hassan said, according to the country's English-language newspaper The Citizen. "This is not a time for finger-pointing, but it is a time to hold hands and move forward together."

Magufuli was a divisive figure in Tanzania, praised for fighting corruption and improving the economy, but criticized for shutting down dissent and freedom of speech to stay in power. He downplayed the threat of COVID-19, urging citizens to turn to prayer rather than masking and social distancing.

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Hassan has a long history with government work in Tanzania, getting her start in the Ministry of Planning and Development while in her 20s in 1986. She won her first election in 2000, capturing a seat in the Zanzibar House of Representatives.

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She became involved in national politics in 2014 when Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete selected her as the minister of state for union affairs. A year later, Magufuli picked Hassan as his running mate when he ran for president.

Magufuli and Hassan won re-election last year. Hassan will finish Magufuli's term, which ends in 2025.

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