October 8, 2012 / 7:28 PM / 6 years ago

Mozambique's president sacks prime minister

Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza arrives for the lighting-up ceremony of the centenary torch ceremony ahead of the upcoming African National Congress (ANC) centenary celebration in Bloemfontein January 8, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique President Armando Guebuza sacked his prime minister in a surprise cabinet reshuffle on Monday, replacing his presumed political successor with the little-known governor of Tete province, home to a massive coal mining investment boom.

Prime Minister Aires Aly had been the president’s second-in-command and was being groomed to succeed Guebuza as president in the 2014 election. But his aspirations were crushed when the southern African nation’s Frelimo ruling party ousted him from its powerful Political Committee last month.

A government statement said Aly will be replaced by Alberto Vaquina, who has mainly overseen the multi-billion dollar coal rush in Tete, home to one of the world’s largest untapped coal and natural gas reserves.

Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the reshuffle.

Guebuza also replaced the tourism, education, youth and sports minister.

Guebuza was first elected as president in 2004. He was re-elected five years later.

The ruling party has been criticised recently for not yielding the benefits of its vast coal and gas deposits, leaving most Mozambicans to scrape by on an average $400 a year despite annual economic growth of around 7 percent in the last five years.

Reporting by Marina Lopes, Editing by Ed Cropely and Diana Abdallah

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