Tanzanians go to the polls on 31 October to elect the president and 232 new members of parliament, or Bunge.

Jakaya Kikwete, the incumbent president, for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM), is expected to win a second term of office. But the main opposition candidate, Wilibrord Slaa, for the Chadema party, is putting in a good showing across the country and appears to have scored well in the recent television debate with Kikwete.

According to the national electoral commission 19.6 million Tanzanians are registered to vote although opposition parties have contested this figure, saying that given a population of about 40 million the number of eligible voters should be closer to 16 million.

Three teams of observers have arrived to monitor the elections, one from South Africa, one from the African Union and one from the European Union for the first time.

A new informal web-based monitoring system is also in place for the first time, modeled on the one used in Kenya to report incidents of post-electoral violence in 2008. Organised by Ushahidi (which means testimony in Swahili) a new platform, Uchaguzi TZ, click here for more background on Uchaguzi TZ and the election monitoring programme has been built by volunteers and designers across Africa. Its website reports that it is linked with Sodnet from Kenya and Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on Election Observation (TACCEO), made up of 17 local Tanzanian non-governmental organisations led by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) Tanzania.

One of the key spots to watch during the elections is Dar es Salaam where the density of population is highest in the country. Zanzibar is also an important indicator of the country