Mozambique’s Frelimo picks presidential candidate

MATOLA: Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party picked Defense Minister Filipe Nyussi as its presidential candidate late Saturday, a decision likely to see current President Armando Guebuza maintain influence even after he steps down following October polls.

“Filipe Nyussi won with 68 percent,” party spokesman Damiao Jose told AFP shortly after midnight Sunday following two rounds of voting.

 Members of the party’s powerful central committee burst into song and jostled to congratulate the minister after its caucus ended midnight.

“Congratulations Frelimo,” Nyussi told AFP after his win. When asked how he felt he said: “I am from Frelimo,” referring to a long history with the party.

The party vote, held late Saturday night in Matola outside the capital Maputo, went to a second round after Nyussi failed to garner an outright win in the first.

Armando Guebuza is set to step down as president of the resource-rich country after his two terms are up.

However, he retains control of the party after winning reelection in 2012 and successfully pushing through one of his favorites to succeed him in the country presidency.

Nyussi, a Guebuza loyalist, has eight months to prepare for presidential polls set for October 15.

The 55-year-old former state railway employee emerged as the front-runner amongst three “pre-candidates” announced by the party late last year.

A last minute push by influential figures inside Frelimo widened the field to five, but dark horse former prime minister Luisa Diogo won only 31 percent in the final round of voting.

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