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

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.

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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