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Tanzania Army chief says Magufuli succession ‘was not easy’

Tanzania’s retiring Defence Chief has for the first time shared the challenges the military faced in managing the transition following the sudden death of former President John Pombe Magufuli.

In an interview with ITV news, General Venance Mabeyo suggested that the process of ensuring President Samia Suluhu Hassan, then serving as Vice President, succeeded his deceased boss was not as straight forward as it appeared on television.

He said: “For the first time we lost a sitting Head of State, it was a difficult period. We stood our ground, with humility as the Army and had to do our work as per the constitution to protect our country and protect our constitution.”

“I’m glad to announce that passed on well, we welcomed a new president Mama Samia Suluhu, whom we are working with very properly. The country remains is safe, citizens are relaxed and they are following the instructions as per the government’s request.”

The Army boss confession appears to corroborate with reports that a clique of people tried to frustrate the President Suluhu from suceeding Magufuli.

Suluhu announced Magufuli’s death on TV dead in the night in March of 2021 and was sworn in the following morning before overseeing the funeral that led to his former boss burial at his home town of Chato.

The first ever woman president in East Africa, Suluhu would soon thereafter quarrel publicly with the then National Assembly Speaker John Ndugai, a Magufuli loyalist, and third in command in presidential succession, leading to his resignation.

President Suluhu recently celebrated her first anniversary at the helm.

Magufuli died suddenly in March of 2021, amid reports he had been unwell and flown to Nairobi for treatment.

Several media outlets suggested Magufuli succumbed to Covid-19, with his demise coming months after he’d been sworn in to serve for a second five year term in office.