Tanzania’s ruling party picks works minister for presidential race

DODOMA, July 12 (Reuters) – Tanzania’s ruling party on Sunday named Works Minister John Magufuli as its candidate for this year’s presidential race, a move that means he will most likely become the next president of the east African nation. The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has ruled Tanzania for five decades and its candidate is widely expected to win the Oct. 25 election, taking over from President Jakaya Kikwete, who has served a maximum two terms. The announcement followed a divisive party vote on a short list that had omitted Edward Lowassa, 61, a former prime minister who had been seen as leading the field. He resigned as premier in 2008 over corruption allegations in the energy sector, which he denies.

From a final list of three, Magufuli, 55, beat two female contenders: former senior U.N. official Asha-Rose Migiro and African Union ambassador to the United States Amina Salum Ali. “The result of voting from this conference is John Magufuli (87 percent), Ambassador Amina Ali (10 percent) and Dr. Asha Migiro (3 percent),” CCM said via Twitter, ahead of a formal declaration by the party. Party officials did not say why Lowassa had been left off a short list, that initially included five, that had been whittled down from 38 hopefuls by CCM’s central committee, chaired by the president.

Tanzania has been one of Africa’s most politically stable nations and has not been torn by the debate raging in parts of the continent, where some presidents have been eying third terms despite constitutional restrictions. Lowassa has yet to comment. But one aide had said that he if he was not picked he could still make a bid for the presidency as an opposition candidate. The main opposition parties promised last year to field a single candidate in the election, but experts say they may struggle to overcome years of mutual suspicion and infighting.

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