FORMER Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who this month lost his bid to become the presidential candidate for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, defected to the main opposition group, its spokesman said.
Lowassa, 61, will announce his decision to join Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo later on Tuesday, Tumaini Makene said in a phone interview from Dar es Salaam, the country’s commercial capital. Lowassa didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.
“He is going to Chadema, joining as a member,” Makene said. “If there is anything to be decided on the leadership structure, it will be after that.”
Tanzania holds presidential elections Oct. 25. The new leader will guide policy on how to develop the country’s 55 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves discovered by companies including Statoil ASA, Exxon Mobil Corp., BG Group Plc and Ophir Energy Plc. The East African nation is also considering building a $15 billion gas-export plant.
Lowassa was Tanzania’s eighth prime minister from 2005 until 2008, when he resigned after being implicated in a corruption scandal. He denied the allegations, describing them as politically motivated.
Earlier in July, Lowassa was one of 37 candidates of the ruling party who failed in their attempt to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete, who is stepping down after completing his second term in office. CCM elected Works Minister John Magufuli as its presidential candidate.
‘Could be a kingmaker’
Lowassa’s switch to the opposition will bring the party “a lot of financial backing and grassroots support and competitiveness” in parliamentary elections, Ahmed Salim, a Dubai-based analyst at Teneo Intelligence, said in a phone interview. The legislative vote will take place on the same day as the presidential ballot.
“He could be one of the king-makers and provide quite a lot of financial and strategic support,” Salim said. “If he is fielded as a candidate, it changes a lot, but we can’t say it clears Chadema to win presidential elections.”
A coalition of four opposition parties known as Ukawa, which includes Chadema, is working on fielding a single candidate in the vote, Chadema’s Makene said.