August 20, 2005

Election campaigns kicked off

Presidential election campaigns kicked off in Tanzania in August, with political leaders promising to wrench the east African nation out of grinding poverty, as well as fight graft and enhance the status of women in society. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM - Revolutionary Party) launched its campaign with candidate Jakaya Kikwete pledging to maintain the nation's peace and stability "at all costs", while keeping improvement of the economy on top of its agenda. "People who sow seeds of discord by preaching tribalism, racism and religious misunderstanding should find another place to go," Kikwete said at a rally in Dar es Salaam. He also promised to ensure robust pro-poor economic growth that would focus on creating jobs for hundreds of thousand of rural and urban youths. "Increased agricultural production is going to be taken as a matter of life and death, but special push will be given to industrialisation; especially creation of agro-processing and labour intensive factories," he announced.
The National Electoral Commission announced 10 candidates, amongst them the first woman gunning to succeed President Benjamin Mkapa when he completes his second and last five-year term in office in November. According to local political observers, Kikwete is the favourite. The virtually unknown Anne Senkoro, 43, of the Progress Party of Tanzania, is being given little chance of winning, but has been hailed for joining this traditionally male-dominated race for the nation's top post. Two other women - the Zanzibaris Naila Jiddawi of the NCCR and Rukia Omar Kiota of the Tanzanian Labour Party (TLP) - are running mates. Also in the running are Ibrahim Lipumba of CUF, which is the strongest party on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, and Augustine Mrema of the TLP. Both are veteran politicians who lost to the Mkapa in the 1995 and 2000 polls. In a bid to improve their chances of success, an alliance of five small opposition parties has agreed to field a single presidential candidate. He is Edmund Mvungi, a human rights activist and law lecturer. Others in the race for the top government office are Freeman Mbowe of Chama Cha Demokrasi na Maendeleo; Christopher Mtikila of the Democratic Party; Emmanuel Makaidi of the National League for Democracy; Leonard Shayo of Demokrasia Makini; and Peter Kyara of Sauti Ya Umma. (Rts / ReliefWeb, Switzerland)

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