Tanzania's foreign minister joins crowded presidential race

2015-06-07 17:07

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Dar es Salaam - Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe announced on Sunday he will seek nomination to run for president in an election in October, adding to a crowded field of ruling party candidates.

Membe, seen as one of the leading contenders, told a rally in the southern town of Lindi that he would boost economic growth, create jobs and fight corruption in the East African country.

"We will use our natural gas reserves to transform our country into an industry-driven economy, with agriculture as the base of that economy," Membe said.

"The presidency is not for sale," he added. "When I am president, I will re-introduce ethical leadership."

The 61-year-old is seen as a close ally of President Jakaya Kikwete, who stands down this year after serving the maximum two terms.

The foreign ministry is a traditional stepping stone to Tanzania's presidency: Two of its four presidents had previously held the post.

The presidential field within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party already includes at least 15 announced candidates, and several others are considering bids.

Membe faces stiff competition from former prime minister Edward Lowassa, who announced his bid last month and is widely regarded as the front-runner.

But Lowassa, 61, who backed Kikwete in 2005, is seen as a divisive figure in the ruling party after resigning in 2008 over corruption allegations in the energy sector, charges he denied.

The CCM has ruled since independence in 1961, and whoever wins its nomination on July 12 is all but assured of taking office after Kikwete.

Analysts said the fractious opposition would struggle to mount a credible challenge despite plans to field a single presidential candidate in the October 25 election. Parliamentary elections will take place on the same date.

Read more on:    tanzania  |  east africa

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