Frelimo picks presidential candidate

2014-03-02 09:29
President Armando Guebuza (AP)

President Armando Guebuza (AP)

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Maputo - Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party picked Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi as its presidential candidate late on Saturday, a decision likely to see current President Armando Guebuza maintain influence even after he steps down following October polls.

"Filipe Nyussi won with 68%," party spokesperson Damiao Jose told AFP early on Sunday following two rounds of voting.

Members of the party's powerful central committee burst into song and jostled to congratulate the minister after its caucus ended at midnight in the city Matola outside the capital Maputo.

"Congratulations Frelimo," Nyussi told AFP after his win. When asked how he felt he said: "I am from Frelimo," referring to a long history with the former liberation movement.

Frelimo - a formerly Marxist-Leninist but now avowedly capitalist party - has won every election since Mozambique's civil war ended 21 years ago, and is expected to do so again in October.


This means Nyussi is effectively president-in-waiting.

Armando Guebuza is set to step down as president of the resource-rich country after his two terms are up, but retains the party leadership.

The 1980s ex-Marxist won 2009 polls with 75% of the vote and while in power has expanded his business empire to media, mining, construction and fishing sectors.

Detractors have suggested he plans to follow the example of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and cling to power from behind the scenes after his presidential mandate ends.

Nyussi, a Guebuza loyalist, has eight months to prepare for presidential polls set for 15 October.

The 55-year-old former state railway employee emerged as the front-runner amongst three "pre-candidates".

A last minute push by influential figures inside Frelimo widened the field to five, but dark horse former prime minister Luisa Diogo won only 31% in the final round of voting on Saturday.

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