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First female President emerges in Tanzania

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Samia Suluhu Hassan is a soft-spoken, Muslim woman thrust from the obscure role of vice president to become Tanzania’s first female leader after John Magufuli’s sudden death.

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, a semi-autonomous archipelago, 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 — a stark contrast to the thundering rhetoric favoured by her predecessor — Hassan solemnly declared 14 days of mourning.

She will consult the CCM over the appointing of a new vice president.

– ‘Hold your breath’ –

Analysts say Hassan will face early pressure from powerful Magufuli allies within the party, who dominate intelligence and other critical aspects of government, and would try and steer her decisions and agenda.

“For those who were kind of expecting a breakaway from the Magufuli way of things I would say hold your breath at the moment,” said Thabit Jacob, a researcher at the Roskilde University in Denmark and expert on Tanzania.

“I think she will struggle to build her own base… We shouldn’t expect major changes.”

Her loyalty to Magufuli, nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his no-nonsense attitude, was called into doubt in 2016.

Her office was forced to issue a statement denying she had resigned as rumours of a rift grew more persistent, and Hassan hinted at the controversy in a public speech last year.

“When you started working as president, many of us did not understand what you actually wanted. We did not know your direction. But today we all know your ambitions about Tanzania’s development,” she said in front of Magufuli.

– Getting things done –

Hassan was born on January 27, 1960 in Zanzibar, a former slaving hub and trading outpost in the Indian Ocean.

Then still a Muslim sultanate, Zanzibar did not merge formally with mainland Tanzania for another four years.

Her father was a school teacher and mother a housewife. Hassan graduated from high school but has said publicly that her finishing results were poor, and she took a clerkship in a government office at 17.

By 1988, after undertaking further study, Hassan had risen the ranks to become a development officer in the Zanzibari government.

She was employed as a project manager for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) and later in the 1990s was made executive director of an umbrella body governing non-governmental organisations in Zanzibar.

In 2000, she was nominated by the CCM to a special seat in Zanzibar’s House of Representatives. She then served as a local government minister — first for youth employment, women and children and then for tourism and trade investment.

In 2010, she was elected to the National Assembly on mainland Tanzania. Then president Jakaya Kikwete appointed her as the Minister of State for Union Affairs.

She holds university qualifications from Tanzania, Britain and United States. The mother of four has spoken publicly to encourage Tanzanian women and girls to pursue their dreams.

“I may look polite, and do not shout when speaking, but the most important thing is that everyone understands what I say and things get done as I say,” Hassan said in a speech last year.

She is among a very small circle of women to lead East African nations. Burundi briefly had an acting female president in 1993, while both Mauritius and Ethiopia have had women appointed to the ceremonial role of president.

AFP


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Woman expecting septuplets gives birth to 9 babies

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A Malian woman gave birth to nonuplets in Morocco on Tuesday and all nine babies are “doing well”, her government said, although Moroccan authorities had yet to confirm what would be an extremely rare case. 

Mali’s government flew 25-year-old Halima Cisse, a woman from the north of the poor West African state, to Morocco for better care on March 30. 

She was initially believed to have been carrying septuplets.

Cases of women successfully carrying septuplets to term are rare — and nonuplets even rarer.

Moroccan health ministry spokesman Rachid Koudhari said he had no knowledge of such a multiple birth having taken place in one of the country’s hospitals.

But Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that Cisse had given birth to five girls and four boys by Caesarean section.

“The mother and babies are doing well so far,” Mali’s Health Minister Fanta Siby told AFP, adding that she had been kept informed by the Malian doctor who accompanied Cisse to Morocco.

Doctors had been concerned about Cisse’s health, according to local press reports, as well as her babies’ chances of survival.

Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that ultrasound examinations conducted in both Mali and Morocco had suggested that Cisse was carrying seven babies.

Siby offered her congratulations to “the medical teams of Mali and Morocco, whose professionalism is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy”.

AFP


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Buhari pledges better collaboration with Zambia

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Nigeria and Zambia will deepen collaboration between the two countries, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured. 

The President spoke Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving a Special Envoy of His Excellency, Edgar Chagwa Lungu. 

He said the two countries would explore further areas of collaboration for the good of their peoples, and benefit of the African continent. 

The Special Envoy, Hon Joseph Malanji, who is Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, thanked Nigeria for her “big brother role in ECOWAS and the African continent,” stressing that “equity is when strong ones strengthen the weak ones.”

 The Zambian President called for stronger bilateral relations and greater impetus for the Joint Commission of Cooperation between the two countries. 


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Breaking: Late Deby ’s son takes over, to head Transitional Military Council in Chad

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A transitional military council is established in Chad, headed by Lt.-Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of late president Idriss Deby, the Al Wihda newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The military plans to publish a “transitional charter” soon. Chad declared a two-week national mourning period after the president’s death and imposed a curfew from 18:00 p.m. local time until 05:00 a.m.

In addition, the military decided to close land and air borders “until further notice.”

The AFP reported earlier in the day that Deby, who commanded an army unit during hostilities against the rebels in Chad’s north, died.

A source confirmed to Sputnik that the president was critically injured during the clashes and died later in a hospital.

Mahamat previously served as the second in command of the Armed Forces for the Chadian Intervention in Northern Mali (FATIM).

On Feb. 22, he led his army against rebels in the Adar al-Ifoghas mountains in Northern Mali leading to the Battle of al-Ifoghas.

They eliminated a rebel base said to be of “significant importance”, inflicting heavy losses upon the rebels but also losing twenty-six men in the process, including Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam, a commander of special forces.

Mahamat took full command of the FATIM and has since been leading operations against rebels in the North.


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