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Tension in Tanzania Ruling Party Emboldens Opposition

FILE - Edward Lowassa, shown addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 2006, is seen as a divisive figure in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party but remains popular and has done well at fundraising.

A Tanzanian opposition lawmaker says tension within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party will boost the chances of the opposition coalition to win the presidential vote.

The CCM has ruled the country since the country gained independence in 1961.

Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party says the opposition parties' Ukawa coalition will take advantage of the apparent split among supporters of the ruling party to win.

His comments came after senior officials of the CCM Central Committee excluded former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, from the list of aspiring candidates to lead the party in the October 25 general election.

Lowassa was seen as a front-runner in the presidential race because of the crowds that welcomed his campaign across the country. His opponents however accuse him of being divisive and tainted with corruption. Lowassa denies the accusations.

The ruling party’s central committee led by outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete excluded Lowassa from a five-member list of candidates ahead of the October vote.

Opposition Hopeful

Analysts say Lowassa’s exclusion could split the ruling party, and give the opposition coalition a chance to win the presidential vote. Lissu agrees with the assessment.

“This is the end game for CCM and it has been this way for quite a while,” said Lissu. “The fact that Edward Lowassa has been taken out of the race will definitely cause even bigger tension and divisions within the CCM. It will surely put us in a much better position to win power in October.

“Our chances are very good,” said Lissu. “They were very good with Lowassa and they are very good with whoever comes… [Lowassa] has not been able to win the people within his party. We know the reasons why he was drawing huge crowds [because] his campaign has been very well financed. He spent billions to get people on the streets to get people to show support to him.”

Some supporters of the former prime minister say Mr. Lowassa should consider joining an opposition party to challenge the ruling party due to what they said is his popularity. Lissu disagreed.

“I don’t see Lowassa crossing over from CCM to join with Ukawa. Firstly, because he is not the type of politician who has the boldness required to cross over. It is also a fact that if he crosses over to the opposition, there is no way he can be our flagbearer in the coming election in October. So, I don’t see any incentive for him to cross over except for the maybe retaliation,” said Lissu.

He said the reaction of supporters from the opposition coalition has been quiet. Lissu however says the group has been focused on intensifying its nationwide campaign ahead of the vote.

“We have been preparing ourselves so whoever comes from CCM... we are being prepared. So the fact that it is not Lowassa does not in any way lower our level of preparation,” said Lissu.

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