Samia Suluhu Hassan - OkayAfrica

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan holds the Koran during the swearing-in ceremony as the country's first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021.

(Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Samia Suluhu Hassan Becomes Tanzania's First Woman President

Samia Suluhu Hassan's historic appointment as the country's first woman president comes after the death of Tanzania's former president, John Magufuli, who passed away last week.

Samia Suluhu Hassan made history this past Friday as she became the first ever woman president of Tanzania. Her appointment follows her previous role as Vice President (from 2015) to the now late President John Magufuli. The statesman passed away last week due to alleged heart conditions despite rampant speculation that he succumbed to COVID-19. Hassan, who is 61-years-old, has urged the East African country to unite and "avoid pointing fingers" with regards to Magufuli's death.

READ: Tanzanian Government Declares Country Free of COVID-19

During her swearing into office at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Hassan addressed a crowd saying, "This is a time to bury our differences, and be one as a nation." She went on to add that, "This is not a time for finger pointing, but it is a time to hold hands and move forward together." The remarks were an attempt to dispel lingering uncertainty which resulted from Magufuli's mysterious 2-week absence from the public prior to his death.

Following Hassan's historic appointment, US Vice President Kamala Harrisextended her congratulations on social media and expressed her desire for their two countries to develop stronger ties. Harris wrote, "Sending best wishes to [Samia Suluhu Hassan] following her swearing in as Tanzania's new President - the first woman to hold the office." Harris added, "The United States stands ready to work with you to strengthen relations between our countries."

As with any presidential incumbent, Hassan faces a number of challenges following her predecessor's 6-year rule. The Guardian reports that according to Tanzanian analysts, Magufuli's terms in office were marred by numerous and arbitrary arrests, a crackdown on any political dissent, shutdowns of social media and internet access as well as censorship of free media.