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Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete Favored To Become Tanzania's Next President

The overwhelming favorite to win Tanzania's presidential elections this week is Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete. Mr. Kikwete has for years affiliated himself with Tanzania's founding president, Julius Nyerere, and his immediate successors, Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa. Mr. Kikwete has also been an active member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapin-Duzi (CCM), or revolutionary party. The 55-year-old politician has held a number of positions in government.

Dar-es-Salaam-based political analyst Jenerali Ulimwengu told Voice of America reporter Ashenafi Abedje Mr. Kikwete’s expected elevation to the presidency will mean two things for Tanzania. He says it will signal a new era in that for the first time, a candidate will have been elected with a genuinely popular vote. Mr. Ulimwengu says a Kikwete presidency would also mean a continuation of current policies, since Mr. Kikwete is a loyal and longtime member of the CCM party.

The Tanzanian analyst describes Mr. Kikwete as a likable, charming person -- easy to deal with. He says the prospective president has a mind of his own and does not hesitate to express his views whenever appropriate. Mr. Ulimwengu says the Mr. Kikwete’s style of openness and friendship with Zanzibari leaders will go a long way toward easing the current strained relations between the mainland and the island archipelago.