Tanzania Vice President Urges Calm With Leader Not Seen Publicly

Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm and national unity amid speculation that the president is sick in the hospital.

President John Magufuli hasn’t been seen in public since Feb. 24, which is unusual for a leader who regularly travels the vast East African country to speak at project launches and rallies. Government officials have dismissed as baseless claims by opposition leaders, including Tundu Lissu, that Magufuli is critically ill.

“I want to assure you that Tanzania is safe,” Hassan said Monday in a speech televised by state broadcaster TBC1 from the northeastern coastal town of Tanga, where she was inspecting projects. “It’s normal for any human being to be examined from time to time, whether it’s the flu, fever or anything else.”

Hassan didn’t refer to Magufuli directly. Her remarks followed an assurance by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Friday that Magufuli is well.

Magufuli, who secured a second five-year term in October to lead the gold-mining and gas-rich nation, has drawn widespread criticism for his unorthodox handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He declared his nation free of the disease even as public hospital were swarmed with people displaying Covid-19 symptoms in January and February. The government denied that hospitals were overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

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