Tanzania’s new president, John Magufuli, was sworn in Thursday, despite continuing disputes over the October 25 election.
Magufuli along with the east African nation’s first female Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, took the oath of office in front of cheering crowds at Uhuru Stadium in the capital, Dar es Salaam.
“I, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, do solemnly swear that I will execute my duties as the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, with integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of my roles diligently…,” he said in Swahili.
In a short speech, Magufuli promised to work hard to implement the pledges he made during the campaign.
“We are aware of the trust and enormous responsibility that you have assigned us …but with God’s guidance, people’s cooperation and goodwill, our nation can prosper,” he told a packed stadium. Magufuli also appealed to all Tanzanians to unite, saying “we are all winners because the polls ended peacefully …we must now stand together in the broader interest of our nation.”
Mwamoyo Hamza, Chief of the VOA Swahili Service, says this was a real test for democracy in Tanzania, adding it was competitive and the opposition had a realistic chance of winning the elections even if they didn’t win. Hamza also says that having a female vice president in the country means that she could one day become Tanzania’s first female president. And that is significant as well.
Many African heads of state attended the ceremony, including Zambian President Edgar Lungu, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, South African President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
Hamza points out the presence at the ceremony of some of those leaders shows the ties that exist among the countries and the value they place on Tanzania as one of the leading nations in terms of resolving issues around the region.
The election extended the longtime rule of the CCM party both in the presidency and in parliament.
The opposition, which boycotted the ceremony, says the presidential election was rigged and has rejected the results, while the semi-autonomous Zanzibar region annulled its polls because of alleged irregularities.
European Union election observers said the polls were well organized but said a lack of transparency undermined the opposition’s trust in the electoral process.
Magufuli is Tanzania’s fifth president since the country won independence from Britain in 1961. Unlike many African countries, Tanzania has a history of peaceful transfers of power. President Jakaya Kikwete stepped down this year after completing two terms in office.
Magufuli defeated his main challenger, Edward Lowassa, in last month’s election 58 to 40 percent, according to official results.
The new president is 56 years old and spent 15 years in the government’s Cabinet, mostly as minister of works, whose job is to oversee construction projects. During the campaign, he pledged to reduce unemployment and poverty in Tanzania and improve infrastructure. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa, where, according to the World Bank, nearly half the population lives on less than $2 per day.