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President John Magufuli of Tanzania Dies at 61

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who drew widespread criticism for his denialism of the coronavirus pandemic, has died only five months after he won a second term in a disputed election. He was 61.

“We have lost our courageous leader, President John Magufuli, who has died from a heart illness,” Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on state television on Wednesday. She announced 14 days of national mourning.

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Nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’ for his aggressive leadership style, Magufuli won early praise for tackling corruption, reducing wasteful government spending and improving the lives of peasant farmers by waiving dozens of taxes. He also spearheaded the development of new transport links, power plants and more than 1,700 health centers, investments that helped Tanzania’s economy become one of the world’s top performers.

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Magufuli also drove through controversial reforms aimed at ensuring the nation derived greater benefit from its natural resources, which put his administration on a collision course with foreign mining companies. In 2017, the authorities asked Barrick Gold Corp.’s local unit to pay a whopping $190 billion tax bill — a dispute the company settled by paying $300 million and creating a mining joint venture with the state.

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