November 29, 2014 / 2:48 PM / in 3 years

Tanzanian leader declares himself free of cancer after surgery

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete declared himself cancer-free on Saturday after undergoing prostate surgery in the United States earlier this month.

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania, addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Kikwete, 64, has led east Africa’s second-biggest economy since 2005 but must step down next year at the end of his second and final term in office.

“I was diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer, which was later down-graded to stage 1 cancer,” Kikwete said in a televised address at the airport after returning from the United States. “Doctors said the cancer did not spread to other parts of the body and declared me cancer-free after the surgery.”

He said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer more than a year ago and underwent the surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on Nov. 8.

“I carried this burden for a long time without telling anyone,” Kikwete said.

Tanzania plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in October 2015, which will be preceded by a referendum on a new constitution in April.

Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Edith Honan; Ruth Pitchford

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