Magufuli rival Lowassa returns to ruling CCM

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Tanzania's President John Magufuli (right) with opposition leader Edward Lowassa at State House Dar es Salaam on January 9, 2018

By The East African

Former Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who was the main opposition challenger to President John Magufuli during the 2015 election, made a surprise return to the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Friday.

Mr Lowassa’s shift to his old party was announced at a brief public ceremony at the CCM offices in Dar es Salaam.

According to CCM spokesman Mr Humphrey Polepole, the veteran politician arrived at a party meeting and said “I have come home”.

President Magufuli, who was present at the meeting, is reported to have happily welcomed him back.

“Mr Lowassa has shown himself to be a true gentleman. He may have left us (CCM) to join the opposition in a huff at one point, but he has shown the humility to ask for forgiveness and I salute him for that,” Dr Magufuli is quoted in the statement released by Mr Polepole.

“In any religion we are taught to forgive… and our aim is to build a new, united Tanzania where there are no political conflicts because I believe development has nothing to do with political parties.”

Mr Lowassa defected to Chadema in the run up to the 2015 general elections after his name was removed from the list of CCM presidential aspirants.

After being dropped out of the primaries by his party, Mr Lowassa went on to denounce the party as undemocratic and surrounded with greedy power mongers.

In January last year, Mr Lowassa was pictured with President Magufuli at State House after a meeting that commentators said was meant to midwife his defection to CCM.

At the time, he denied the claims saying whereas the President had persuaded him to rejoin CCM, he had declined the offer. But in a swift rejoinder, State House said the discussions between the two leaders did not touch on defection.

Analysts say the timing of Mr Lowassa’s defection to the ruling party points to Dr Magufuli’s quest to galvanise his support base ahead of the 2020 poll when he will be seeking re-election for a second and final term.

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