Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who won a landslide victory in the country's third election since the return of multiparty politics in 1992, will be sworn-in Wednesday as Tanzania's fourth head of state. International observers have described the Dec. 14 poll, which had nine aspirants challenging the ruling Revolutionary Party's 44-year hold on Tanzania's presidency, as the best organized since the country held its first multiparty election in 30 years in 1995.
Kikwete, 55, won 80.2 percent of the Dec. 14 vote, or 9,123,952 votes, surpassing the legal requirement that a winning candidate garners a simple majority of all registered voters. Tanzania has more than 16,300,000 registered voters.
The voter turnout was 72.2 percent. Kikwete's nearest rival, Ibrahim Lipumba of the main opposition Civic United Front party, won 11.6 percent.
Kikwete will replace Benjamin Mkapa, who has finished his two terms of five years that are allowed under Tanzania's constitution. The Revolutionary Party won 206 seats out 232 that were up for grabs in parliamentary elections also held on Dec. 14.
The Civic United Front won 19 parliamentary seats, while three other parties shared the remaining seven seats. Kikwete's rise to the presidency is the culmination of a political career during which he has held high-level posts in government and the ruling Revolutionary Party.
He supports further liberalization of Tanzania's economy, which until 1985 was socialist-driven under the direction of the country's independence hero and first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. Tanzania gained independence from Britain in 1961.
When Kikwete reversed his decision to seek the ruling party's nomination as presidential candidate in 1995, the deal between him and the eventual winner, Mkapa, was that he become foreign affairs minister.
Kikwete held that post until his Dec. 14 election as president, becoming Tanzania's longest serving foreign affairs minister. Earlier, the University of Dar es Salaam economics graduate, served as finance minister and energy minister under Tanzania's second President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, reports the AP. I.L.