After her sworn in today, the first woman president of Tanzania has called for unity among the country’s citizens.

Samia Suluhu Hassan said the country should unite and avoid pointing fingers after the death of John Magufuli, her COVID-19 sceptic predecessor, urging the east African country to look forward with hope and confidence.

Wearing a red hijab, she took her oath of office on the Koran in a ceremony at State House in the country’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Hassan, vice president since 2015, gave a brief and somber address speaking to a heavily male crowd that included two former presidents and uniformed officers.

“This is a time to bury our differences, and be one as a nation,” she said, adding- “This is not a time for finger pointing, but it is a time to hold hands and move forward together.”

The remarks appeared aimed at dispelling a mood of uncertainty that developed after Magufuli, criticised by opponents as a divisive and authoritarian figure, disappeared from public view for 18 days before his death was announced.

Among the first tasks facing Hassan, 61, will be a decision on whether to procure COVID-19 vaccines. Under her predecessor, the government said it would not obtain any vaccines until the country’s own experts had reviewed them.

She praised the late leader in her remarks: “He taught me a lot, he was my mentor and prepared me sufficiently.”

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