Vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, was sworn in as Tanzania’s first female President on Friday replacing her principal John Magufuli who died on Wednesday.
After taking the oath of office, Dr Hassan paid tribute to Magufuli and pledged to respect the constitution of the East African country.
Her announcement that Magufuli died of heart failure has been overshadowed by speculations that the former chemistry teacher succumbed to COVID-19, a disease he had denied existed.
Unlike populist Magufuli, who set out to fight corruption but was later accused of authoritarian tendencies, Hassan, a former minister in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar and minister of state in the Vice-president’s office is believed to prefer delivering results behind the scenes.
It is unclear whether her government would handle COVID-19 differently, but she is expected to bring steady hands on the ship of state.
Hassan is considered a good listener and conciliator, going by her performance as vice-chair (2014), of the Constituent Assembly that drafted Tanzania’s new constitution.
She was Magufuli’s deputy from 2015 and will serve out his remaining tenure which ends in 2025.
Hassan is Tanzania’s sixth President and Africa’s third female Head of State, after Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Joyce Bunda of Malawi.