Frelimo picks defence minister Nyussi as presidential candidate

Mozambique President Armando Guebuza (left) and Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi in Maputo on March 1. (AFP)

Mozambique President Armando Guebuza (left) and Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi in Maputo on March 1. (AFP)

Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party picked Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi as its presidential candidate late on 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%," party spokesperson Damiao Jose told Agence France-Presse shortly after midnight on 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 at midnight.

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

The party vote, held late on Saturday night in Matola outside the capital Maputo, went to a second round after Nyussi failed to achieve 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 favourites 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 among 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% in the final round of voting. - AFP

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