Moz party claims poll fraud

2009-11-03 22:39

Maputo - Mozambique's main opposition party claimed on Tuesday that polls that gave a landslide victory to the southern African country's ruling party were rigged.

With the votes counted from 89% of polling stations, last Wednesday's vote was set to give ruling party Frelimo a two-thirds majority in parliament and return incumbent President Armando Guebuza to office in an election that most international observers described as fair.

But a spokesperson for Renamo, the party on track to claim second place, alleged the polls had been rife with "electoral crime".

Election officials "sabotaged the October 28 elections from the voter registration phase until election day," said Ivone Soares, national spokesperson for Renamo.

'Not free or transparent'

Soares accused Frelimo of stuffing ballot boxes, switching voter registries, expelling Renamo members from polling stations and unfairly influencing election officials.

"This type of fraud demonstrates that the elections were not fair or transparent and is sufficient reason for them not to be recognised," Soares said.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, headed for his fourth presidential election loss, also alleged electoral fraud and hinted at the possibility of violence.

"Either it's the end of democracy in Mozambique, or we take power by force," Dhlakama said following the vote, according to state news agency AIM.

Fraud alleged after each poll

Renamo fought a 16-year civil war against Frelimo's Communist government following Mozambique's independence from Portugal in 1975.

The conflict ended with a 1992 peace agreement that paved the way for the country's first democratic elections.

Renamo has not posed a military threat since the end of the war, and has failed to win the presidency or a majority in parliament in the four general elections since.

The former rebel group has alleged fraud following each poll.

Some international observers criticised a lack of transparency by election officials in last week's vote, though most praised the poll and none reported evidence of widespread fraud.