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Kikwete pledges credible polls

DAR ES SALAAM, Oct 30 – Tanzania\’s President Jakaya Kiwkete said Sunday\’s polls, in which he is the clear favourite, will be credible and dismissed opposition claims of vote rigging.

"There is nothing to fear. I appeal to all those who are eligible to take part in the exercise and we have done everything possible to ensure its credibility," Kikwete said during a televised press conference late Friday.

Opposition groups have charged that Kikwete\’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM – Revolution Party) was preparing to rig Sunday\’s elections but the president said the voting process will be transparent and urged his opponents to refrain from divisive campaigns.

"We must do everything to avoid going in that dangerous direction," said the 60-year-old president.

Kikwete is facing five opponents — a sixth pulled out at the last minute saying his name was misspelled on the ballot — but none appear to pose a serious challenge.

Around 19 million voters have been registered for Sunday\’s vote, Tanzania\’s fourth since it re-introduced multi-party politics in 1992.

The vast East African country has been spared the political turmoil that has plagued its neighbours Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Campaigning closes on Saturday and Kikwete\’s final rally in the economic capital Dar es Salaam is expected to draw a huge crowd.

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Top presidential contenders on Tanzania\’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar island, which will hold elections on the same day, were also winding up their campaigns Saturday.

Zanzibar, more volatile than the mainland, has adopted a power-sharing constitution under which the two parties who do best in the poll will form a unity government in an effort to avoid perennial election violence.

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