Death of Tanzania’s President Magufuli
Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli, who was recently considered controversial because of his Corona policy, died Wednesday at the age of 61. Officials said he died of heart failure at a hospital in Dar es Salaam. His last public appearance dates back to the end of February. Since then, rumors circulated about a possible Covid 19 infection of the president, who made headlines by downplaying the pandemic in recent months. Tanzania has not published official figures on Corona infections since last May. Only in mid-February this year, Magufuli recommended wearing masks after the vice president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, died from Covid-19. Magufuli was first elected to parliament in 1995 under the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and was elected president of Tanzania in 2015 with 58% of the vote. In 2020, the trained teacher was re-elected for a second five-year term. During his six years in office Magufuli was particularly recognized for his austerity, anti-corruption and domestic infrastructure projects. However, accusations of restricting freedom of the press and freedom of expression tarnished his popularity abroad. According to Article 37(5) of the East African country’s constitution, the office of president left vacant by death is assumed by the vice president for the remainder of the term. Thus, Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in Thursday as Tanzania’s new president for the next four years. The Zanzibari is Tanzania’s first female president. Suluhu was first elected to public office in 2000 and had served as vice president since 2015. In her inaugural speech on Thursday, she declared a two-week national mourning and urged the people of Tanzania to unite. She also stressed her ambitions to bring stability to the East African country. So far, it is unclear to what extent the 61-year-old, known for her calm and deliberate demeanor, will continue the increasingly authoritarian policies of her predecessor or reopen her country to democracy.
Second round of parliamentary elections in the Central African Republic
The second round of parliamentary elections was held in the Central African Republic last Sunday after the first round on December 27 was canceled in some districts due to violent outbreaks. In the elections at the time, only 22 of the 140 seats in parliament could be directly elected. There was now a runoff election in 49 districts, and the remaining 69 districts were first to vote on Sunday. The date for a second ballot in these districts has not yet been set. According to the Constitutional Court, at least 71 members must be elected by May 2nd to confirm the new National Assembly. In December, the presidential elections took place at the same time, which incumbent Faustin Archange Touadéra was able to win – but by less than a third of the registered voters, as many could not take part in the elections due to the precarious security situation. Opposition forces, which had already formed an alliance in the run-up to the elections and wanted to prevent Touadéra from being re-elected, therefore called the election a fraud and challenged its legitimacy and legality. According to the UNmission MINUSCA, the alliance of rebels is supported by ex-President François Bozizé. He was overthrown in 2013 by the Seleka, a Muslim coalition of rebel groups. In the aftermath of the December election results, rebel groups rioted, aiming to overthrow the government and pushing into the capital, Bangui, in January. Only with the help of Russian and Rwandan support Central African troops were able to push back the rebels and regain control of Bangui and other cities as well as an important trade route to neighbouring Cameroon. Against this background, unrest was expected again for the second round of parliamentary elections last Sunday, but this largely failed to materialise. Both the national electoral authority and an AU election observation mission were satisfied with the voting processes, even if the overall turnout was low. The results of the elections are to be announced by March 22nd.
In other news
Afrobeats star Burna Boy, nominated for the second time in a row, received the Grammy Award in the category “Best Global Music Album” for his album “Twice as Tall”. In his lyrics, the 29-year-old Nigerian tackles social and political issues of the entire African continent. For a long time, the Afrobeats music genre was not considered established in the international music world. By awarding an Afrobeats singer with the Grammy, the most internationally recognized music award, hopes are growing for a long-term recognition of the music genre. Many see Burna Boy, whose win is considered a major success for the entire African music world, as a trailblazer for other African artists trying to break onto the international stage. In addition to Burna Boy, WizKid, also from Nigeria, was able to win a prize at this year’s Grammy Awards. For his song “Brown Skin Girl” with Beyoncé, he was awarded the prize in the category of “Best Music Video.” This year’s Grammy Awards ceremony was hosted by the South African comedian Trevor Noah.