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Samia Suluhu Hassan: Tanzania’s First Female President

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Samia Suluhu Hassan has on Friday been sworn in as the president of Tanzania, making her the first female to hold the position in the country and  also becoming the sixth east African country’s president following the death of President John Pombe Magufuli from heart-related complications on Wednesday.

The former vice president was first elected as Magufuli’s running mate in 2015, she was re-elected last year along with him and, according to the constitution, she should serve out the rest of the five-year term in the top job.

First elected to a public office in 2000, she came to national prominence in 2014 as the vice-chairperson of the Constituent Assembly, created to draft a new constitution. There her calm demeanour in managing occasional outbreaks of pandemonium and the way in which she dealt with some of the more outspoken members earned her plaudits.

61-year-old Hassan became the second president to come from the country’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar.

Asides Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial, Hassan becomes the only other current female head of state in Africa.

Hassan was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to announce that Magufuli had died from a heart condition after a mysterious three week absence from public view.

The new president in her brief and sombre address called for unity, she said “this is a time to bury our differences, and stand united as a country,”

Hassan added in her address to a crowd of current and former officials that included two former presidents and uniformed military officers that “this is not a time for finger pointing, but it’s a time to hold hands and move forward together.”

She married Hafidh Ameir in 1978, Ameir who is known to be an agricultural academic but has also kept a low profile. They have four children with one, Mwanu Hafidh Ameir, who is currently a member of Zanzibar House of Representatives.

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African News

DR Congo Begins COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

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African Countries Keen On AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine - WHO

The Democratic Republic of Congo will begin its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday after suspending the exercise over fears regarding the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In early March, more than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the DR Congo as part of the COVAX initiative but the country postponed the vaccination after studies in South Africa questioned its efficacy on the variant that is dominant in the country.

Having now reassured the public that the doses are safe for use, the country’s health minister Eteni Longondo said priority will be given to health personnel, people who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and basic social personnel, that is to say those who are in constant contact with the public.

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Zimbabwe Frees Some Inmates To Reduce COVID-19 Risk In Jails  

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Zimbabwe government has begun releasing prisoners amid concerns of overcrowding and coronavirus pandemic. About 3,000 prisoners have been released under a presidential amnesty aimed at easing congestion to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded jails.

Zimbabwe’s prisons have a capacity of 17,000 prisoners but held about 22,000 before the amnesty declared by president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

400 prisoners were released from Chikurubi prison and other jails in the capital, Harare, on Saturday with more coming from other prisons countrywide.

Those to be released had been convicted of non-violent crimes. All females imprisoned for non-violent crimes and who served a third of their sentences are to be released, and all disabled persons convicted of non-violent crimes.  Africa centers for disease control and prevention data show, Zimbabwe has recorded 37,534 cases of covid-19, including 1,551 deaths.

Authorities say, those convicted of crimes such as murder, treason, human trafficking, and sexual offenses will not benefit.

President Mnangagwa also commuted death sentences to life sentences for many prisoners on death row. Zimbabwe still has the death penalty but has not hanged anyone in years.

Authorities have suspended visits to prisons while plans are made to vaccinate inmates as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus. Political activists who have been sent to prison as part of a government crackdown on dissent have spoken of dire conditions, which they said put inmates at risk of both starvation and disease outbreak.

In another response to the pandemic, Zimbabwe has canceled the independence day celebrations planned for April 18 to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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Egypt: At Least 11 Killed, 100 Injured In Train Crash North Of Cairo

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Egypt: At Least 11 Killed, 100 Injured In Train Crash North Of Cairo

At least 11 persons have been killed in Egypt in a train accident. Egypt’s health ministry said in a statement, at least 100 persons were also injured on Sunday in the crash in Egypt’s Qalioubia province north of Cairo. Around 60 ambulances were sent to take the injured from the scene to nearby hospitals.

Railway authorities say at least four train wagons ran off the tracks at the city of Banha in the province. The train was travelling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from the Egyptian capital.

Sunday’s train accident came three weeks after two passenger trains collided in the province of Sohag, killing at least 18 persons and injuring 200 others, including children.

The government says it has launched a broad renovation and modernization initiative in the railway system.

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