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Zambian Voters to Elect President Thursday

Zambians head to the polls Thursday to choose lawmakers and the country's next president.

Incumbent Levy Mwanawasa is facing a strong challenge from a former policeman, Michael Sata.

The president has drawn praise for his economic policies and anti-corruption efforts, which have restrained government spending and curbed inflation. Earlier this year, Western donors excused billions of dollars in Zambian debt.

However, more than two-thirds of the southern African country's people still live on less than $1 a day.

Mr. Mwanawasa also is fighting charges that he is too frail to serve another five-year term following a recent minor stroke.

Mr. Sata has criticized the president's policies, saying they have not helped average Zambians. Sata has promised to reduce taxes while improving social programs. He also says he will give workers bigger stakes in state-owned firms.

Early opinion polls showed Mr. Sata in the lead, although the president moved ahead in the final survey published Monday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.