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Tanzanians vote as ruling party predicts landslide win

Three Senegalese soldiers killed in Casamance rebel ambush
Ziguinchor, Senegal (AFP) Oct 31, 2010 - Three Senegalese soldiers were killed and two injured in an ambush by separatist rebel forces in the southern Casamance region on Sunday, a military police source and media said. "A military regiment was attacked this morning by elements of the Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC)," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity, saying that three people were killed in the attack. The ambush took place near the village of Diarone, 55 kilometres (34 miles) north of the region's capital Ziguinchor. Senegal's national press agency APS reported that two other people were injured in the incident which took place during a security exercise on the N4 national road. According to the same military source, MFDC rebels held up several vehicles on Saturday 15 kilometres from Ziguinchor, robbing them of all their goods.

The Casamance, separated from the rest of Senegal by The Gambia, is home to West Africa's longest running conflict, a low-level civil war for independence which has been underway since 1982. Despite a peace accord signed in 2004, violent flare-ups between the Senegalese army and rebels have increased since last year with soldiers frequently killed or injured, while rebels carry out vehicle hijackings along the national road against civilians. In mid-March the army launched a vast operation south of Ziguinchor in which four soldiers were killed by rebel fire and 11 injured. One civilian was killed in the same period. With its famed stretches of white beaches and lush forests, the tropical Casamance could be Senegal's richest agricultural and tourism area, but the conflict has been a blight on a country vaunted as the region's most stable.
by Staff Writers
Dar Es Salaam (AFP) Oct 31, 2010
Tanzanians voted Sunday in elections which incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete predicted will hand him a landslide victory for a second term in office.

Voting went smoothly despite some organisational hitches and polling stations closed from around 4:00 pm local time for ballot counting. Results were expected by Wednesday according to the election body.

"The party is expecting a landslide. The CCM has done a lot for the country in the last five years," Kikwete told reporters after casting his vote in his home village Msoga, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Dar es Salaam.

"The campaign was stiff because others also campaigned strongly but we are going to win by a very huge margin," he said, sporting blue trousers and a cream jacket and accompanied by his wife.

Kikwete, a 60-year-old former foreign minister, has pledged to improve health, education and infrastructure. Critics accuse him of talking about proposed improvements but never implementing them.

Election monitors said voting went off without incident despite complaints from some voters that their names were missing from the electoral register.

"We do not know how widespread it is. Some voters are turning up and finding their names are not on the list and are unable to vote," said Paul East, head of the Commonwealth observer group here.

On the country's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, which has seen bloody electoral violence in the past, voting was orderly although some residents said they feared a resurgence of violence.

"You never know with elections. Violence can erupt at any time," said another resident, Abdallah Issa, explaining he had hidden his car to keep it safe.

Polling also closed there and officials began counting votes.

On both the mainland and in Zanzibar men and women queued in separate lines. AFP correspondents said the process was relatively time-consuming because each voter was choosing legislators and local councillors as well as a president.

The Zanzibar electoral commission said voting for councillors had been delayed in some parts of Pemba island and blamed the "misallocation" of ballot papers.

The run-up to this year's elections has been the liveliest since Tanzania, east Africa's largest country, returned to multi-party politics in 1992.

The Civic United Front (CUF) presidential candidate Ibrahim Lipumba criticised Kikewete for failing to honour pledges he made when he first came to power five years ago.

Lipumba is running for the fourth time, after losing twice to Kikwete's predecessor and to Kikwete himself in 2005.

Wilbrod Slaa of the CHADEMA party is Kikwete's closest rival but scored just 10 percent in opinion polls released this month.

During his time as a legislator Slaa, 62, pioneered an anti-graft drive that saw the resignation of prime minister Edward Lowassa, several lawmakers and the central bank governor.

In Zanzibar, veteran opposition politician Seif Sharif Hamad of the CUF will face CCM's Ali Mohamed Shein for the island's presidency in a contest expected to be closely fought.

But under a power-sharing constitution adopted in July, the winner and the runner-up in Sunday's poll will serve in a unity government aimed at ending recurrent election violence.

Tanzania has enjoyed relative stability since independence in 1961, in contrast to its neighbours which have been plagued by unrest.

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