Voting in Chad's legislative elections is underway, with more than 40 parties fielding candidates. President Idriss Deby's ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement is expected to retain its parliament majority.

Most polling stations opened on time in the capital, N'Djamena. In some areas there were queues when bureaus first opened. No disturbances had been reported by midday. Voting appears to have been continuing slowly but steadily throughout the regions.

Observers reported that five officials were present in most polling stations, often flanked by representatives of the parties fielding candidates in each constituency, with one soldier keeping guard.

At least 40 parties are fielding more than 400 candidates, including 35 women, for 155 parliamentary seats. It is Chad's second legislative election since the return of the elected government.

President Deby's ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement is expected to retain control of the National Assembly. It currently holds 65 of 125 seats. The government has increased the number of seats to 155 in this election, in order, it says, to ensure better representation of voters.

Opposition parties had earlier threatened to boycott the polls, after asking for greater transparency, but most are taking part.

Members of the ruling party hold a majority in Chad's National Independent Electoral Commission, which last year ruled that Mr. Deby had won re-election despite widespread criticism from the other six candidates.

There are about 4.25 million voters on the recently updated voting lists, which are computerized for the first time.

Some voters say they do not think it is worth voting, as they feel the ruling party is bound to win. In about 50 consituencies, only the ruling party put forward candidates.