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EU decried violence in Mozambique elections

Parties’ acceptance of the presidential, parliamentary and provincial vote results is a key test of the ceasefiresigned in August between the government and opposition Renamo rebels after years of skirmishes following a 15-year civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people.The President of Mozambique is elected using the two-round system.

While praising the voting day as smooth, orderly and largely peaceful, the EU decried violence in the run-up to the vote murder, the torching of houses and obstruction of campaigns.

The election was a competition between the ruling Frelimo Party of President Filipe Nyusi and former rebel group turned opposition Renamo, which is led by Ossufo Momade.

The results are likely to see the president’s party secure a second term. Frelimo has been in power for 44 years, since Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975.

The apparent magnitude of Frelimo’s win was criticized by some independent analysts.

“A crushing electoral victory for Frelimo and president Filipe Nyusi … will divide the country and push a lasting peace further away,” said Nathan Hayes, analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Frelimo victories in the historical opposition strongholds of Sofala, Zambezia, Manica, Nampula and Tete provinces … would be a serious setback for the country’s peace process and multiparty democracy.”

If Renamo rejects the election results, it would be a severe blow to efforts to establish peace across Mozambique. A peace accord between Renamo and the government was signed in August, but an estimated 5,800 armed rebels loyal to Renamo have not yet turned in their weapons.

The Oct. 15 elections were marked by restrictions on observers and several reports of suspected ballot stuffing with some peo

The European Union’s observer mission criticized many aspects of the election, including lack of independent monitors of the vote counting process.

However, the Oct. 15 elections were marked by restrictions on observers and several reports of suspected ballot stuffing with some people apprehended carrying backpacks with ballots marked for Frelimo.

“The absence of national observers in almost half of observed polling stations did not contribute to the transparency of the process,” said chief EU observer Sánchez Amor.

Rights groups are now concerned that the deal could be jeopardized since elections have historically been a trigger for violence in Mozambique.

At least 44 people were killed during the eletion campaign, although most of them died in campaign related road accidents and some in a stadium stampede at a pro-Nyusi rally.

Mozambique’s general elections held on Tuesday were well organised but marred by an unlevel playing field, violence and a climate of fear, according to a preliminary assessment by EU monitors.

While praising the voting day as smooth, orderly and largely peaceful, the EU decried violence in the run-up to the vote murder, the torching of houses and obstruction of campaigns.

The EU also questioned the integrity of the voters’ register, but the electoral administration has denied accusations of vote manipulation.

The leader of the main opposition party, Renamo, Ossufo Momade, has warned he will not accept manipulated results, prompting fears August’s peace accord with the government could be in jeopardy.

‘Extreme violence’

Very few results have yet trickled out, although an official at the electoral commission said they may start coming out on Friday the law allows 15 days in total after the vote.

Under the peace deal, Renamo will be able to choose governors for the first time in any provinces it wins, instead of them being appointed by the central government in Maputo. Yet there are fears of unrest if it fails to win any.

The electoral campaign has been marred by violence.

The run-up to the vote was marred by sporadic violence, including the killing of an election  observer and attacks from a breakaway group of Renamo fighters, with one person reported killed.

Mixed dilemma

African observer missions were more sanguine, with both the African Union team led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the Southern Africa bloc SADC praising the poll for being peaceful and well organised.

“We commend [the electoral commission] and the state for conducting successful, peaceful and orderly elections,” SADC mission chief Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told journalists.

“Parties and people must be patient and remain committed to Peace as the results are being compiled for validation,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is Zimbabwe’s defence minister.

Mozambique’s electoral commission has not released any official results yet, but the Sala da Paz consortium of Mozambican civil society organizations said it projects that Nyusi won 71% of the vote, far ahead of 21% for Ossufo Momade, leader of the Renamo opposition party. The estimates are based on the group’s calculations of results posted outside polling stations.

 

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