The registrar of political parties in Tanzania said intensive campaigning by participating political parties in Sunday’s general elections will make this year’s vote the most competitive.
John Tendwa said there is sufficient evidence to show that the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party might not enjoy the overwhelming support it used to enjoy during previous elections.
“All political parties are ready for elections. The presidential candidates are now winding (down) their rallies and give whatever statements they want to give the electorate. The parliamentarians and local government counselors are also in line. The citizens of the country are very eager to vote on Sunday,” he said.
Tendwa also said that a host of international observers are already in the country to monitor Sunday’s vote.
“What we are praying on is that the election be run smoothly without any violence or a breach of the peace. And we are sure that we are going to make it successful,” he said.
The elections are expected to result in a second term for incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete. More than 19 million Tanzanians are eligible to vote in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary polls.
Another 400,000 people on the semi-autonomous Zanzibar Island will choose leaders under a new power-sharing agreement. Opinion polls show Mr. Kikwete maintaining a lead over the six other presidential candidates, despite his decreasing popularity in recent months.
President Kikwete of the ruling CCM Party is pledging to reduce poverty and improve health care, education and transportation.
The CCM has been Tanzania's ruling party since the country won independence from Britain in 1961.
But, analysts say public dismay over government corruption, among other issues, is giving opposition challenger Willibord Slaa momentum in the race to make it one of Tanzania's most fiercely-contested elections.
Slaa, who heads the opposition Chadema party, is a parliamentarian known for his strict anti-graft campaign. He is promising to reduce the size of government and cut taxes. The CCM's main opposition has traditionally been the Civic United Front (CUF).
Opinion polls show the CUF's presidential hopeful, Ibrahim Lipumba, running third.
Ali Mohamed Shein of the CCM and Seif Sharif Hamad of the CUF are taking the lead in opinion polls for Zanzibar's presidential election. The two parties will be required to form a coalition government -- a measure passed in an August referendum as part of efforts to prevent election-related violence.