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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Mozambique looks to new leader
President Joaquim Chissano
Chissano is not running for a third term

The ruling party in Mozambique - Frelimo - has chosen Armando Guebuza, a veteran of the struggle to overthrow Portuguese colonial rule, as its new leader and as candidate for the presidential election in two years' time.

He is almost certain to take over as president of the country in presidential elections when he takes over from President Joaquim Chissano, who has been in power for the last 16 years.

Armando Guebuza (Pic: Mocambique Online)
Guebuza is likely to become Mozambique's next leader
Armando Guebuza has been a leading member of Frelimo every since he was elected to the politburo in 1968.

Then, the party was at war with the Portuguese, and Mr Guebuza became a guerrilla commander, rising to the rank of general.

He has served in every government since independence in 1975.

Mr Guebuza is a shrewd politician, and a brilliant linguist, who has learnt to blend intelligence with a populist touch.

'Mr Ge-business'

But he has not been without controversy.

As the man who oversaw the departure of the Portuguese, he became known as "20 - 24", for allowing settlers just 24 hours to leave the country with 20 kilograms of their property.

A woman holding Baobab fruit
Whoever leads Mozambique must fight widespread poverty

And in the 1980s, he came in for criticism for forcibly moving unemployed people from the cities to the countryside.

But with the crumbling of the Soviet Union, he was one of the first to see the need for change - swapping his combat fatigues for smart suits, and earning the nickname "Mr Ge-business".

As leader, Mr Gebuza is likely to continue the country's western, free-market orientation, and to strengthen the already powerful links with South Africa.

See also:

10 Dec 01 | Africa
06 Jun 02 | Africa
03 Jun 02 | Business
21 Dec 00 | Africa
20 May 02 | Country profiles
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