Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in on Friday as Tanzania’s first female president after the unexpected death of John Magufuli from an illness shrouded in mystery.
The 61-year-old, wearing a suit and headscarf, took the oath of office in Dar es Salaam before inspecting troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute.
“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and obey and protect the constitution of Tanzania,” she said before a room of dignitaries, who applauded when the brief ceremony was complete.
Under the constitution, Hassan will serve the rest of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which doesn’t expire until 2025.
She is that the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is especially ceremonial.
Hailing from Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island within the Indian Ocean, Hassan rose through the ranks over a 20-year political career from the government to the national assembly.
A stalwart within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), she was named Magufuli’s campaigner within the 2015 presidential campaign.
The pair were re-elected in October last year during a disputed poll marred by allegations of irregularities.
She must consult the party about appointing a replacement vice-chairman. Analysts say she could face pressure from powerful Magufuli allies within the CCM, who dominate intelligence and other critical aspects of the state and will attempt to influence her decisions.
Hassan was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to announce that Magufuli had died aged 61 from heart disease after a mysterious three-week absence from public view.
Questions remain over truth explanation for his death, after multiple rumors he had Covid-19 or had sought treatment abroad.