Moz poll campaign underway

2009-09-13 22:18

Maputo - Campaigning officially got underway on Sunday for October 28 elections in Mozambique, the fourth since the southern African country became a multi-party democracy 15 years ago.

President Armando Guebuza of the governing Frelimo party is being challenged by Afonso Dhlakama, long-time leader of the opposition Renamo, and Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira city and founder of a breakaway opposition group.

Seventeen parties and two coalitions are meanwhile in the running for seats in the Mozambican parliament, known as the Assembly of the Republic, and, for the first time, provincial assemblies.

"Let's make these elections another moment of celebration, of reinforcing national unity, of consolidating peace and of projecting the good name of our beloved country," said Guebuza in a nationally televised address.

Guebuza victory almost guaranteed

Guebuza's re-election is virtually guaranteed, political analysts say. He won the 2004 election with 64% of the vote, while Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Former rebel movement Renamo has meanwhile suffered a series of setbacks since 2004, when Dhlakama last ran against Guebuza and lost by more than a two-to-one margin.

In local elections in November, Renamo failed to win a single mayoral seat.

Assassination attempt

Then in March, Simango - a rising star in Renamo before falling out with its leaders - formed a rival opposition party, the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM), taking some of Renamo's top political talent with him.

Tension between Renamo and the MDM has run high in the months leading up to the campaign. In June, Simango was the victim of an apparent assassination attempt that police blamed on Dhlakama's bodyguards.

Renamo denied any involvement on the part of its leaders.

Multi-party democracy was established in Mozambique as part of a peace deal that ended a 16-year civil war.