1st results from Mozambique polls point to Frelimo victory

2014-10-16 12:33
Voters produce identity documents as they go through the voting process at a polling station, in Maputo, Mozambique. (Ferhat Momade, AP)

Voters produce identity documents as they go through the voting process at a polling station, in Maputo, Mozambique. (Ferhat Momade, AP)

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Maputo - Mozambique's ruling party Frelimo appeared headed for a strong victory in presidential elections as a vote count was getting under way on Thursday.

Frelimo candidate Filipe Nyusi had 283 629 votes, his main challenger Afonso Dhlakama 134 848 votes and third runner Daviz Simango 37 600 votes so far, according to partial results made public by district electoral bodies.

Few results were available for parliament and provincial assemblies, which Mozambicans also elected in Wednesday's vote.

More than 10 million people had been eligible to vote. Long queues had formed in front of polling stations, raising speculation of a high voter turnout.

Official election results were expected within 15 days.

The elections pitted the former independence movement Frelimo, which has governed Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975, against Renamo, a former anti-communist movement which waged a 16-year civil war against the initially Marxist Frelimo.

A 1993 peace deal turned Renamo into the biggest opposition party.

In 2012, its leader Dhlakama launched a low-level insurgency, accusing Frelimo of excluding the opposition from economic power.

A peace deal signed in August allowed Dhlakama, 61, to come out of his hideout in the central Gorongosa mountains and run for president.

Corruption

Frelimo candidate Nyusi, currently defence minister, wants to succeed outgoing President Armando Guebuza, who cannot run again after completing two terms.

The third candidate is Daviz Simango, 50, whose five-year-old party the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) has been gaining support, especially among young voters.

Nearly 30 parties were seeking seats in parliament and in provincial assemblies.

Frelimo had been expected to win, though analysts said it could lose votes over allegations of corruption.

Poverty remains widespread in Mozambique, despite the economy growing at a rate of about 7% as offshore gas finds are fuelling investment.

There was concern that if Renamo suffers heavy losses, it could relaunch its guerrilla campaign.

Dhlakama, who is seeking the presidency for the fifth time, said that all the previous elections had been fraudulent.

Changes in electoral law guaranteeing the three main parties representation at the electoral commission were expected to increase transparency.

The elections were monitored by observers from the European Union, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

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