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High turnout in Mozambique vote

Incumbent President Armando Guebuza
Armando Guebuza looks highly likely to win a new term

A big turnout is being reported in Mozambique as people queue to vote in an election for a new president, parliament and regional assemblies.

The BBC's Jose Tembe in Maputo says there is an air of excitement - a marked difference to 2004 when only 34% of those eligible cast their vote.

The campaign has been dominated by the emergence of a new political party.

But the governing party, Frelimo, and incumbent President Armando Guebuza seem likely to win a majority.

It is the country's fourth democratic election since the end of brutal civil war in 1992.

Our correspondent says long queues formed in the capital, Maputo, with some people lining up before the polls opened at 0700 local time (0500 GMT).

'End the monopoly'

Mr Guebuza, a former general and rich businessman who is seeking his second term in office, was among the first to vote in Maputo, where he joked that his vote was secret, the Associated Press news agency reports.

MOZAMBIQUE BALLOT
Supporters of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama
Main parties and candidates
* Frelimo - Armando Guebuza, incumbent president
* MDM - Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira
* Renamo - Afonso Dhlakama, veteran opposition leader
Parliamentary seats: 250
Eligible to vote: Nearly 10 million
Polls open at 0500 GMT and close at 0400 GMT

He has promised to continue his work towards national unity and development.

His two opponents - veteran opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama and Daviz Simango, the popular mayor of Beira - also cast their votes early.

They say it is time to end Frelimo's monopoly of power - the party has been at the helm since independence in 1975.

As well as the presidency, Frelimo currently holds 160 seats in the 250-seat parliament.

Frelimo fought a 16-year civil war with Renamo, which was backed by the white minority government in South Africa.

Recent economic reforms have given the country strong GDP growth, although the effects of the world economic crisis have made themselves felt, and exports have dropped significantly this year.

Complaints

Mr Dhlakama, who has alleged electoral fraud in the past, says he will not contest the presidency again if he loses this election.

Daviz Simango
Davis Simango, the mayor of Beira, is seeking change

"Mozambique needs a total revolution and this time it will be a reality," he said as he cast his ballot.

Mr Simango's Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which was formed only nine months ago after splitting from Renamo, has been excluded from fielding candidates in nine of the 13 parliamentary regions.

He says Frelimo is trying to stifle the opposition, but the country's Constitutional Council rejected MDM appeals to contest polls nationwide, saying its registration papers were not in order.

Mr Simango says Frelimo's policies have favoured the south of the country at the expense of other regions.

"We want to change this scenario," said Mr Simango.

In all, 19 parties are taking part in the elections, but several more were barred by the Constitutional Council.

Polls close at 1800 local time, with early results expected later on Wednesday and the official results within two weeks.



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SEE ALSO
Your pictures: Mozambique votes
28 Oct 09 |  Africa
Q&A: Mozambique goes to the polls
27 Oct 09 |  Africa
Mozambique's poll line-up
27 Oct 09 |  Africa
Country profile: Mozambique
22 Jan 11 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Mozambique
22 Jan 11 |  Country profiles

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