Polls Open in Tanzania
Around 10 million Tanzanians went to the polls Sunday in a batch of elections which are likely to give union President Benjamin Mkapa another five years in office.
Mkapa was first in line at the polling station in Bunge primary school in the center of Dar es Salaam at 7 am (0400 GMT), declaring: "I've voted for the victory of my party."
Voters across the United Republic of Tanzania, which includes Zanzibar, will vote for a union president and for members of a union parliament and of local councils.
Voters in the semi autonomous state of Zanzibar will in addition vote for their own president and for members of Zanzibar's House of Representatives.
In Zanzibar, there are widespread fears that violence might accompany the announcement of election results and some residents have taken precautions for such an eventuality by sending away wives and children and by stocking up on food.
In all, 13 parties are contesting the elections, with four of them fielding candidates for the union presidency and just two for Zanzibar's presidency.
CCM candidate Mkapa's rivals are Ibrahim Lipumba for the CCF, Augustine Mrema for the Labor Party and John Cheyo of the United Democratic Party.
In Zanzibar, Amani Abeid Karume is fighting to keep the presidency with the CCM, while Seif Shariff Hamad is determined to win it for the CUF.
On the mainland, the divided nature of the opposition fuels a general conviction that Mkapa will win another term of office and that the CCM will win a parliamentary majority.
Between 200 and 250 international observers are in the country for the elections which, at least on the mainland, they feel will be free and fair.
In Zanzibar, the CUF has complained about a variety of alleged electoral irregularities, especially regarding voter registration, police harassment and unequal coverage on state-run media.
Voting ends at 4:00 PM (1300 GMT) on the mainland and at 5:00 PM in Zanzibar -- DAR ES SALAAM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)