Tanzania could have its first female president in Vice President Samia Suluhu following the death of President John Magufuli on Wednesday.
Ms Suluhu is expected to be sworn within 24 hours.
According to the law, she will not be acting president, but will take over full powers as head of State and can appoint her own cabinet and even change some of Magufuli’s policies.
The Tanzanian Constitution Article 37(5) says when “the Office of the President becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, loss of electoral qualifications or inability to perform his functions due to physical infirmity or failure to discharge the duties and functions of the Office of the President, then the Vice President shall be sworn in and become the President for the unexpired period of the term of five years and in accordance with conditions set in Article 40.”
After she is sworn in, Ms Suluhu will become the second female head of State in East Africa after Sylvie Kinigi of Burundi, and the third in the wider eastern Africa region after Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde whose post is ceremonial. Ms Kinigi was the acting President in Burundi between October 1993 and February 1994, while Ms Zewde has been president since October 2018.
Ms Suluhu will also be the second Zanzibari since Ali Hassan Mwinyi to lead the United Republic.
According to the law, Ms Suluhu in consultation with her political party, will then propose a new vice president, “and such appointment shall be confirmed by the National Assembly by votes of not less than fifty percent of all the Members of Parliament.”
Once Ms Suluhu takes over as president, she will be eligible to contest for one more five-year term as this will be deemed her first term.
In other instances, the Tanzanian law provides that a vice president can be allowed to contest for two terms if he/she replaces a President for less than three years of the five-year term.