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Tanzanians Head to The Polls

Tanzanians headed to the polls Wednesday in the country's third multi-party elections since independence.

Ten presidential candidates are among those vying in presidential and parliamentary elections. They are seeking to replace outgoing President Benjamin Mkapa, who is stepping down after two terms of rule as stipulated in the country's constitution. Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete is widely expected to be elected to replace Mr. Mkapa.

Although 18 political parties are contesting parliamentary seats, the main race is between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, and the Civic United Front. Analysts say the Chama Cha Mapinduzi will likely retain its majority.

The spokesman for the Civic United Front, Richard Hiza Tambwe, tells VOA that the voting went well for the most part.

"Some of the people who were registered when they went to their polling stations, they do not see their names there," he said. "That is a very, very big problem which has occurred up to now. But the polling process is going very well. Our worry now is the counting process, so we are waiting to see what will happen in this time."

Tanzania's elections were originally to be held at the end of October, but were postponed on the mainland following the death of an opposition vice presidential candidate. Elections went ahead in the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar. During those polls, which the ruling CCM won, police beat up, and fired teargas on, opposition supporters.

Chama Cha Mapinduzi and its predecessors have ruled Tanzania for more than 40 years. There has been much friction between the Chama Cha Mapinduzi and the opposition Civic United Front, especially in Zanzibar.

Following the 1995 and 2000 elections the parties accused each other of manipulating results and intimidating voters. The results of the latest elections are expected to be announced within the next few days. About 16 million people are registered to vote in Tanzania.