President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was elected the fourth president of the United Republic of Tanzania in December of 2005 and was re-elected to a second (and final) term in 2010. An economist by training, he is a veteran member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been the country’s ruling party since independence from the United Kingdom in 1963. Alongside his obligations as President, he has also chaired the African Union; the Southern African Development Community Organ on Security, Defense and Politics; the East African Community’s Council of Ministers; and currently co-chairs the World Health Organization’s Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.
Prior to his presidency, President Kikwete served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Tanzanian military and held positions in the central government as a Member of Parliament; Minister of Water, Energy and Minerals; Finance Minister; and as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for ten years (1995-2005). As Foreign Minister, Kikwete led Tanzania’s peace efforts in the Great Lakes region, particularly in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Chairman of East African Community’s Council of Ministers, he helped move forward the process of regional integration in East Africa, particularly the negotiations of establishing a Customs Union between Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. He also co-chaired the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy with the Foreign Minister of Finland.
In 2007, Kikwete was elected Chairman of the South African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Security, Defense and Politics, where he participated in the search for peaceful solutions to political crises in the southern Africa region, including a political crisis in Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
President Kikwete’s chairmanship of the African Union focused finding a solution to the 2007 post-election turmoil in Kenya as well as conflict in the DRC.