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In Mozambique, Frelimo's landslide electoral victory rejected by opposition

Filipe Nyusi during the election campaigns in 2014. Photo: Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

On 15 October, Mozambicans elected a new president, members of the National Assembly, provincial governors, and members of provincial assemblies.

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi, of the Frelimo party, was reelected with 73 percent of the vote, against 21.88 percent for Ossufo Momade from the main opposition party Renamo. Frelimo also elected 184 out of 250 seats of the unicameral legislative and all 10 provincial governors.

All the provinces gave an overall victory to Frelimo, including Zambezia and Nampula where it had lost in other elections.

Mozambique's Constitutional Council hasn't yet made the results official.

On 21 October, Renamo declared that it “neither accepts nor recognizes” the election results, according to Deutsche Welle. A statement by its political committee said:

Considerando que alguns eleitores traziam consigo boletins de voto já assinalados a favor do partido Frelimo e do seu candidato antes de entrar na sala de votação, o partido Renamo considera que houve fraude semelhante àquela em que estudantes se apresentam na sala de exame com cópias de guias de correcção.

Face a isto, a Renamo distancia-se dos resultados que estão sendo anunciados pelos órgãos de comunicação social, por não corresponderem à vontade do eleitorado

Considering that some voters brought with them ballots already marked for the Frelimo party and its candidate before entering the voting room, Renamo party judges that there was fraud similar to if students came to the exam room with copies of answer books.

In view of this, Renamo is distancing itself from the results being announced by media, as they do not show the will of the electorate.

Deutsche Welle reported that Renamo’s president also called on “all Mozambicans to not accept the big electoral fraud [and] demand the immediate and unconditional release of all Renamo members, arbitrarily detained during the electoral process.”

MDM, another opposition party, similarly issued a statement rejecting the results:

O MDM não aceita os resultados que estão sendo publicados, por estes não reflectirem a vontade dos moçambicanos. Nem em sociedades civilizadas se admite este tipo de eleição.

MDM does not accept the results which are being published because they do not reflect the will of Mozambicans. In civilized societies, this type of election is not allowed

Frelimo and Filipe Nyusi publicly thanked the voters for their participation:

Obrigado a todos pelo apoio!

Este domingo, acompanhamos a divulgação dos resultados das eleições gerais e das Assembleias Provinciais pela Comissão Nacional de Eleições (CNE).

Estivemos atentos em todo o País em escutas colectivas. Eu e milhares de camaradas juntamos-nos na Escola Central do Partido, na cidade de Matola, Província de Maputo.

Vamos continuar a aguardar pela homologação dos resultados pelo Conselho Constitucional para no próximo ciclo continuarmos, com a nossa visão de trabalhar para um Moçambique próspero, equitativo e justo.

Thank you all for the support!

This Sunday, we followed the release of the results of the general elections and provincial assemblies by the National Election Commission.

Thousands of comrades and I were together at the Party Central School in Matola City, Maputo Province.

We will continue to wait for the Constitutional Council to ratify the results for the next cycle to continue, with our vision of working for a prosperous, equitable and fair Mozambique.

Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since the end of the civil war and the establishment of multiparty democracy in 1992. Since then, Renamo has never accepted election results. In 2014 and 2015, tensions led to a new armed conflict. Three new peace or ceasefire agreements have been signed since 1992.

In 2018, Renamo's historic leader passed away, and Ossufo Momade's current leadership is not accepted by a faction.

The 2019 elections took place amid armed conflict between Islamic insurgents and the military in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which has left 200 dead since 2017. The climate of insecurity prevented around 5,000 people from casting their votes.

The Electoral Transparency Platform, an election monitoring initiative conducted by five civil society organizations, pointed to irregularities in some procedures. According to the newspaper O País:

O grupo de organizações da sociedade civil diz ainda ter detectado situações de enchimento de urnas nalguns pontos, detenções dos delegados de candidatura, mesmo quando estes gozam de imunidade.

A Plataforma de Transparência Eleitoral diz ainda ter encontrado dificuldades na credenciação dos seus observadores, tendo conseguido credenciar apenas 3,200 observadores, dos cerca de 7,000 pedidos para o efeito.

The group of civil society organizations says they detected occurences of ballot-box stuffing in some places, arrests of the polling station monitors, even when they have immunity.

The Electoral Transparency Platform also says that it has encountered difficulties in accrediting its observers, having managed to gain accreditation for only 3,200 observers of the approximately 7,000 requests for accreditation.

The Electoral Transparency Platform, at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo. Photo by Dércio Tsandzana, 15 October 2019

Also observing were the African Union (AU), the Community of Southern African Countries (SADC), the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), and the Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

The observation missions all reported that the elections were peaceful, except for violent incidents in Cabo Delgado which prevented people from voting.

Incidents during the election campaign, including killings of activists and election observers, were considered isolated and did not undermine the process’ integrity. According to news agency Lusa:

A missão da CPLP [Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa] considera que o ato de votação do passado dia 15 decorreu, na generalidade, em consonância com as práticas internacionais de referência.

A missão [da União Africana] observa que a transparência do processo foi assegurada, os partidos e observadores estavam presentes na votação.

Para a SADC as fases de pré-eleição e de votação foram conduzidas, no geral, de forma pacífica e ordeira.

The mission of the CPLP [Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries] assesses that the voting process on the 15th took place, generally, in line with internationally recommended practices.

The [African Union] mission notes that the process’ transparency was ensured, parties and observers were present at voting.

For the SADC the pre-election and voting phases were generally conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner

International observation missions prepare before a press conference. Photo by Dércio Tsandzana, 17 October 2019

The European Union (EU) highlighted that the process was severely compromised by mistrust between the main actors, as well as inequalities in opportunity for electoral competition and dubious voter registration:

O processo eleitoral decorreu num ambiente polarizado e complexo, no qual a violência interpartidária foi prevalente, assim como desconfiança entre os principais partidos políticos e falta de confiança de que a administração eleitoral e os órgãos judiciais fossem independentes e livres de influência política.

The electoral process took place in a polarised and complicated environment, where interparty violence was prevalent, as well as mistrust between the main political parties and a lack of confidence that the electoral administration and judicial bodies were independent and free of political interference.

The European Union's observation mission gives a press conference. Photo by Dércio Tsandzana, 17 October 2019

In a statement from November 8, the EU observation mission (MOE UE) again cited irregularities and this time called for a response by the Constitutional Council:

A MOE UE recebeu informação credível e observou casos de intimidação de delegados dos partidos políticos. Os observadores da UE tomaram conhecimento de centenas de casos em que presidentes de mesas de votação expulsaram delegados e membros de mesa nomeados pelos partidos da oposição, muitas vezes com a assistência da policia. Muitos membros da oposição, quer delegados dos partidos, quer membros de mesa nomeados pelos partidos da oposição, que reclamavam durante o processo foram considerados pelas autoridades como estando a perturbar o processo eleitoral e foram retirados do local ou expulsos com a assistência da policia. Quando a policia esteve envolvida na expulsão de delegados dos partidos, a situação tornou-se por vezes violenta.

A MOE UE considera que a administração eleitoral deverá assumir a responsabilidade em esclarecer as irregularidades constatadas. A MOE UE está consciente de que os factos constatados constituem um esforço acrescido para o Conselho Constitucional que tem a oportunidade de dar resposta a algumas destas irregularidades durante a validação de resultados.

The MOE UE received credible information and observed cases of intimidation of party delegates. EU observers were made aware of hundreds of cases countrywide of polling station presidents expelling opposition party agents and party-appointed poll workers, often with the assistance of police. Many opposition members, whether party agents, party-appointed poll workers or party-appointed election officials, who raised complaints during the process, were considered by the authorities to be disturbing the electoral process and police were called to either arrest or expel them. When police were involved in expelling party agents, it was sometimes violent.

MOE UE considers that the electoral administration should take responsibility in clarifying the irregularities observed. MOE UE is aware that the observed facts pose an additional effort for the Constitutional Council, which will have an opportunity to provide a response to those irregularities when it ratifies the results.

During the campaign, there were cases where journalists were prevented from attending meetings.

Regarding journalistic coverage, there was a case of threats against a journalist who made a radio broadcast on 15 October, which was highlighted by Zito Ossemane on Twitter:

My colleague, Tome Balança, was attacked last night by individuals so far unknown, for his honesty and professionalism on election night. Balança’s residence was surrounded by these people who tortured him and made numerous threats.

Image: From Quelimane, the news arrives of another journalist tortured and threatened. Zito Ossumane, director of Radio Chuaba FM, a private station which operates in that city of Zambezia province, just told the DW Africa correspondent, Sitoi Lutxeque, that unknown people invaded the residence of the journalist Tome Balança…

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