Samia Suluhu Hassan Becomes Tanzania's First Woman President

Ahmed Farooq, International Law Officer

1 Apr 2021

On March 19th, Samia Suluhu Hassan made history when she was sworn in as Tanzania's first female president. Hassan was officiated into the presidency after the death of former president John Magufuli.

Hassan announced that Magufuli died because of heart failure, but opposition leader Tundu Lissuis expressed the belief that the former president passed away because of COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, Magufuli had refused to accept that COVID-19 was a problem in Tanzania. However, reports state that Magufuli had acknowledged the significant threat that the virus posed to the country weeks before his death.

The biggest test for Hassan's presidency will be how she responds to the pandemic. Additionally, Hassan will have to address whether she will continue or diverge from Magufuli's legacy. One of the issues she will have to consider is whether she will carry forward the policies of Magufuli that transformed Tanzania from a relatively tolerant democracy to a repressive state.

Ed Hobey-Hamsher, a senior Africa analyst with the Verisk Maplecroft research firm, said that Hassan's first challenge would be to bring together the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party and rally them behind her. Furthermore, he said that since Hassan is a Muslim woman, she may struggle to gain the support of the party's mainland Christians. He warned that a few leaders might employ "obstructionist strategies" against her.
He speculates that Hassan will probably continue with the status quo instead of commencing a Cabinet reshuffle.

Read more at this AP News link: