Arusha. Former prime minister Frederick Sumaye enlisted to contest for Chadema chairmanship as the deadline for submission of nomination forms ended yesterday.
Sumaye will run against current national chairman Freeman Mbowe who also handed in his forms at a function in Arusha.
Former Singida East MP Tundu Lissu who has been outside the country for two years now following a botched attempt to kill him, also joined in by declaring his interest for the vice chairmanship post.
Sumaye’s candidature will draw interest as it came in the heels of his loss, early in the week, for chairmanship of the coastal region.
The opposition party will hold elections to fill in top leadership positions on December 18. Stiff competition is expected as individuals line up to take the party into the future amid current challenges, including a decamping of its various cadres to the ruling party CCM. The opposition is separately facing political repression as authorities crackdown on party meetings and restrict democracy.
Mr Lissu will compete with Ubungo MP Saed Kubenea in the VC position as stakes in the party become apparent. The last such election was held in 2014 .
Mbowe who has led Chadema from 2004 will be looking to also defend his position against Ndanda MP Cecil Mwambe, to make three, those eyeing the top position.
Mr Mbowe who doubles as Hai MP yesterday revealed the party requested Mr Lissu to vie for Vice-Chairman position of which he agreed.
“I didn’t want to contest for Chairman position again, not because of fear, but I wanted to give other people a chance to lead the party in accordance with the party’s laws and constitution. But I have been requested to contest,” said Mr Mbowe during the meeting.
The current party’s Vice-Chairman for Mainland Professor Abdallah Safari will not be running this year. He said he will, however, remain as the party’s advisor.
Speaking to Mwananchi over the telephone from Belgium, Mr Lissu said: “I would not need to run a campaign as there are thousands of party followers who can organise the campaign for me. ”
When asked why he was interested to contest for Vice-Chairman position and not Chairman, Mr Lissu said: “I contest for the position that I personally think that I deserve at the moment which is Vice-Chairman.” When asked if he would be able to compete with Mr Lissu, the Ubungo MP Mr Kubenea said, “I am well prepared to compete with him. Democracy allows me to serve the party and be part of its transformation and the country’s development as a whole.”
Mbowe urged the party’s followers to embrace peace during the campaigns.
He encouraged the followers not to spread hate against Chadema’s followers who defected to the ruling party-CCM.