July 12, 2015 / 7:41 PM / 4 years ago

Tanzania's ruling party picks works minister for presidential race

DODOMA (Reuters) - Tanzania’s ruling party on Sunday named Works Minister John Magufuli as its candidate for this year’s presidential race, making him the most likely next leader of the east African nation.

John Magufuli addresses delegates after the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) elected him as the presidential candidate for the October 25 election in the capital Dodoma, July 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has ruled Tanzania for five decades and its candidate is widely expected to take over from President Jakaya Kikwete, who has served a maximum two terms, after the Oct. 25 election.

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 sought third terms despite constitutional restrictions.

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.

“I hereby declare John Magufuli winner after he got 87.1 percent of all the valid 2,416 votes cast,” parliament speaker Anne Makinda said.

Magufuli named Samia Hassan Suluhu, 55, as running mate, setting her on course to be Tanzania’s first woman vice-president.

The short list did not include Edward Lowassa, 61, a former prime minister who had been seen as potentially leading the field. He quit as premier in 2008 over corruption allegations that he denies.

Party officials did not say why he was not on the short list that initially included five candidates, whittled down from 38 by CCM’s central committee, which is chaired by the president.

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.

Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Louise Ireland

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