Mozambique vote generally fair, SADC says

2014-10-17 12:45
A woman with a child on her back casts her vote at a polling station as the country goes to the polls in Maputo, Mozambique. (Ferhat Momade, AP)

A woman with a child on her back casts her vote at a polling station as the country goes to the polls in Maputo, Mozambique. (Ferhat Momade, AP)

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Maputo - Observers for the southern African regional bloc declared Mozambique's national elections free and fair on Friday, a day after the main opposition Renamo party rejected provisional results.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) said Wednesday's presidential and legislative elections "were generally peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible".

The ruling Frelimo party said earlier it would rely on observers to validate the elections in the face of Renamo crying foul over partial results which put Frelimo ahead.

Early tallies and projections showed Frelimo's candidate Filipe Nyusi headed for victory with around 60% of the vote while Renamo's Afonso Dhlakama was struggling to win 30%.

Renamo said the vote had been seriously flawed and claimed that Dhlakama had won outright, raising the spectre of post-election violence.

SADC - which is composed of 15 governments in the region - has previously been criticised for overlooking irregularities in polls from Zimbabwe to Malawi.

"Both national and international observers were there and watched the process. They will be able to say whether what Renamo says is true or not," Frelimo's spokesman, Damiao Jose told AFP.

"In Frelimo's opinion these elections took place in a calm, orderly, and transparent way. A few incidents... do not put in question the normal functioning of the process," Jose said. "It went very, very well."

Foreign observer missions, including SADC, the African Union and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries were expected to make pronouncements on the vote later Friday.

Fears of violence

Renamo pointed to "serious irregularities", including people voting more than once, ballot stuffing and polls opening late or not at all.

The former rebel movement, which waged a 16-year war until signing a peace deal in 1992, ended a recently renewed low-level insurgency in the centre of the country just weeks ahead of the election.

Part of the deal to end the latest conflict involved disarming Renamo fighters. But that process was due to kick off only after the elections, raising fears of fresh violence.

The former guerrillas have claimed that all past elections have been stolen by Frelimo, which has been in power since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Any unrest could be disastrous for a country looking forward to the benefits of a mineral resources windfall as gas deposits are exploited.

"Investors are watching Mozambique closely and want stability and predictability," said Chatham House researcher Alex Vines, describing the election as the "most important" since the first post-war vote in 1994.

The vote took place against a backdrop of rising discontent, with rapid economic growth in the southern African nation failing to benefit the bulk of a population that is among the world's poorest.

More than 10 million voters were registered for the presidential race, plus elections for national and provincial assemblies.

Incumbent President Armando Guebuza, from Frelimo, is prohibited by the constitution from running for a third term.

Read more on:    sadc  |  frelimo  |  renamo  |  armando guebuza  |  mozambique  |  southern africa  |  mozambique elections 2014

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