Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan is set to become Tanzania’s first female leader after the demise of President John Magufuli on Wednesday.
Under the constitution, Hassan, the country’s 61-year-old vice president, will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.
A former office clerk and development worker, Hassan began her political career in 2000 in her native Zanzibar, before being elected to the national assembly on mainland Tanzania and assigned a senior ministry.
A ruling party stalwart, she rose through the ranks until being picked by Magufuli as his running mate in his first presidential election campaign in 2015.
The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) comfortably won and Hassan made history when sworn-in as the country’s first-ever female vice president.
The pair were re-elected last October in a disputed poll the opposition and independent observers said was marred by irregularities.
She would sometimes represent Magufuli on trips abroad but many outside Tanzania had not heard of Hassan until she appeared on national television wearing a black headscarf to announce that Magufuli had died at 61 following a short illness.
In a slow and softly spoken address, Hassan solemnly declared 14 days of mourning. She will consult the CCM over the appointment of a new vice president.