She may have been Tanzania’s ‘accidental president’, but Samia Suluhu Hassan has used her first year in office to cement her power.
The way in which she took over the position put her on the back foot.
She found herself stepping up to the plate after the sudden death of John Pombe Magufuli, Tanzania’s fifth president who served from 2015 until 2021. A year earlier, Magufuli had led the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), to power again in a bitterly contested general election. The poll was marred by violence and massive rigging.
Magufuli was nevertheless sworn in as president, and Hassan as vice president. She automatically assumed the presidency after he died on 17 March 2021.
The two immediate challenges she faced were that, firstly, she was a beneficiary of an election that was not considered free or fair.
Secondly, most members of parliament felt their election victories were a result of Magufuli’s political approach. Ninety-nine percent of Tanzania’s parliament is held by the ruling party.
This parliamentary loyalty has, arguably, been a recurring source of challenges in Hassan’s first year of administration.