afrol News / SANF, 15 October - Seven presidential candidates will take part in the 31 October general elections in Tanzania, with incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete being the clear favourite. But the opposition may make important gains.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Tanzania has confirmed and approved of the seven candidates.
They include incumbent President Kikwete, who is running for a second term. He is representing the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been in power since independence in 1961.
Mr Kikwete was endorsed by the CCM its candidate at a national general congress held in early July. Speaking after his nomination, President Kikwete said he would strive to give his best in his last term in office, should voters re-elect him for another five years.
"In my first years I had to learn a lot of things from different people," the President admitted at the party congress. "I am sure the second term will be easier for me. I thank all the members for giving me this opportunity for the second time," he added.
Other candidates to the Tanzanian presidency include Willibrod Slaa and Ibrahim Lipumba of the main opposition parties, the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendelo (CHADEMA) and the Civic United Front (CUF) respectively.
More than 18 political parties are expected to take part in the elections that would see new members of parliament being elected for the next five years.
The Tanzanian parliament, the Bunge, which was increased to 323 members in 2005, is made up of 232 members that are elected while the remainder is appointed. Under the country's constitution, there are 75 seats guaranteed for women, representing an additional 30 percent of the figure of elected seats.
Ten members are appointed by the Tanzanian President, and five seats are occupied by members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The remaining two seats are reserved for the Attorney General and the Speaker of Parliament.
The 75 women members are appointed by the National Electoral Commission drawn from lists submitted by the parties in parliament, and based on the number of votes won by the parties represented in parliament.
In the last election, CCM won 206 of the elected seats, which represents almost 90 percent of the elected seats in parliament. Mr Kikwete won the presidential election with 80.2 percent of the popular vote.
The CUF won 19 seats with the five going to CHADEMA and one each to the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP). The opposition parties expect to increase their representation in the Bunge after the poll.
Education, health and employment are some of the main issues dominating the election campaign as Tanzanians prepare for the 31 October election. President Kikwete and the CCM are expected to be rewarded by voters for the positive economic development in Tanzania during his first period.
The October general election will be Tanzania's fourth since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1992. Despite a widely acceptance of the Tanzanian elections as free, fair and peaceful, the CCM has been able to maintain its dominant position in the country.
The European Union (EU) is sending the largest group of foreign election observers to the Tanzanian polls. A 68-member observer team from the EU is in the process of being sent to the country, with long-term professional observers already in place.
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