Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete Has Named a New Premier

Kikwete Names New Premier

The Nation (Nairobi)
9 February 2008
By Tom Mosoba And Rodgers Luhwago

Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete has named a new prime minister after the occupant of the position resigned following corruption claims against him.

Mr Kikwete named Mr Mizengo Kayanza Pinda to replace Mr Edward Lowassa, who quit on Thursday after being named in a corruption scandal.

Mr Lowassa was accused of being a playmaker in an energy deal involving Richmond Development Company worth $179 million. The company was to generate emergency power in 2006.

Mr Pinda becomes Tanzania's 10th prime minister. He ascended to the post from the position of Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) in which he has been serving since 2006.

Born on August 12, 1948 in Rukwa region, Mr Pinda is considered to be among the personalities who have served the government for a long time with integrity.

Mr Lowassa and two Cabinet ministers tendered their resignation on Thursday, just one day after they were implicated in the deal by MPs in Parliament.

The others are Mr Nazir Karamagi and Dr Ibrahim Msabaha.

The move forced President Kikwete to dissolve his Cabinet on Thursday night.

The three came under severe criticism in Parliament from both the ruling party and opposition MPs.

Withdrew statement

When the House resumed its business Friday evening, one of the members of the parliamentary select committee, Mr Lucas Selelii demanded that "Mr Lowassa withdraw his statement he has issued about the committee'.

As MPs cheered, Mr Selelii demanded the prime minister withdraws his statement that "the committee has lied to the House".

Mr Lowassa withdrew his statement, paving the way for the debate about the report to proceed. Nearly all MPs who got the chance to debate the report strongly supported it, calling upon the resignation of all who have been implicated.

Principal assistant

Simanjiro MP Christopher Ole Sendeka went a step ahead when he demanded that all those implicated should be stripped of their assets before being prosecuted.

Mr Lowassa said he had written to President Kikwete about his intention to step down from the premier's position that he has held for the last two years.

As Prime Minister, Mr Lowassa has been principal assistant and the right- hand man of the president and doubled as leader of government business in the august House.

Emotions ran high and anxiety pervaded parliament and its confines as soon as he announced his resolve to leave government to become the first casualty of the Richmond emergency power supply scandal. His wife, Mrs Regina Lowassa, who was in the Speaker's gallery, openly cried as her husband was declaring that he had been driven out of office through a witch-hunt.

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