DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Voter turnout has been high in Tanzania’s general election Sunday as a new opposition coalition tries to end the ruling party’s 54-year grip on the country.
The election is the first that poses a substantial challenge to Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the ruling party in East Africa’s most populated country, since 1977. Polls suggest the CCM, led by John Magufuli, was leading. Four opposition groups are backing one candidate, former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.
In all, eight people are in the race to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete, who is stepping down after 10 years in office. Some 23.2 million people are eligible to vote, with 57 percent of registered voters between 18 and 35.
CCM candidate John Magufuli has promised to improve the pace of change in the country, including ending power shortages and to utilize Tanzania’s natural gas discoveries. He is known for his push to build roads across the country.
Lowassa, 62, left the CCM when he was not chosen as the presidential candidate earlier this year. Four parties rallied behind him as their joint candidate. He once served as prime minister, but resigned over corruption allegations. He denies any wrongdoing.
The first results are due Monday, with the final results expected by Thursday.