Tanzania’s main opposition leader Tundu Lissu, living in exile in Belgium, urged the country’s newly inaugurated President, Samia Suhulu Hassan, to “change course”, in the fight against COVID-19.
In an interview from his home in Tienen in Belgium on Friday, he told Reuters, without providing evidence, that Hassan’s COVID-19 sceptic predecessor President John Magufuli, had died of the coronavirus.
Lissu cited medical, diplomatic, and security sources in Tanzania and Kenya for his information.
Government spokesman Hassan Abbasi did not immediately respond to a phone call and text message seeking comment on Lissu’s remarks.
Hassan said Magufuli died of heart disease when she announced his death on Wednesday.
One of her first challenges as President will be a decision whether to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
Magufuli denounced vaccines as part of a Western conspiracy to take Africa‘s wealth and opposed mask-wearing and social distancing.
The opposition leader survived an attack by unknown gunmen, in which he was shot 16 times, in Tanzania’s administrative capital Dodoma in 2017. He underwent treatment in Belgium where he went into exile.
He accused the state of trying to kill him, which the government denied.
Magufuli condemned the shooting and ordered security forces to investigate, but no one has been arrested.
Last year, Lissu returned to Tanzania to take part in a presidential election which he lost to the incumbent Magufuli. Lissu then returned to Belgium in November, where he said he would campaign for democracy.
President Hassan said on Friday that the country should unite and avoid pointing fingers after the death of John Magufuli. She urged the East African country to look forward with hope and confidence.