Satisfied voters expected to keep Mozambican president in power

2009-10-29 10:10

VOTERS satisfied with the economic policies instituted by Frelimo,

Mozambique’s ruling party, are expected to keep it in power following

yesterday’s elections despite questions about the party’s commitment to

democracy.

Presidential candidate Daviz Simango has questioned Frelimo’s

commitment to democracy, accusing it of using the country’s elections commission

to squash his party.

Simango was allowed on the presidential ballot but his

nine-month-old Mozambique Democratic Party was excluded from most of the

parliamentary races that are also being contested.

The country’s elections commission said there were problems with

the Mozambique Democratic Party’s filing papers and denied that it was excluding

it from the parliamentary elections on orders from Frelimo.

Simango appealed the decision but Mozambique’s Constitutional

Council, which has the final word on electoral disputes, sided with the election

commission.

Despite Simango’s criticisms, many citizens seem to be still happy

with Frelimo’s performance since coming to power in 1975 after independence from

Portugal.

Free-market reforms instituted by President Armando Guebuza’s

Frelimo party have delivered growth rates as high as 10% a year, making it the

world’s fastest-growing economy at one point even though much of the country

still lives in poverty.

“He built a lot of schools, roads, bridges, hospitals and health

units during his first term of office,” Ana Maria, a 24-year-old student, said

of Guebuza. “Let us give him another chance.”

In the December 2004 presidential elections Guebuza won nearly 64%

of the vote while Alfonso Dhlakama’s Renamo won 32%. Dhlakama (56) has said he

won’t seek the presidency again if he’s defeated again this time.

“The Mozambican people need a total revolution,” Dhlakama said.

“Things must change and I hope this time things will really change.”

Dhlakama said he was “very happy” that voting and campaigning were

peaceful but complained of Frelimo’s advantage over other parties, saying it had

the money to move its candidates on the campaign trail by helicopter.

After winning independence from Portugal, Mozambique fell into a

devastating war between Frelimo, which was then a Marxist guerrilla group, and

Renamo, which was backed by neighbouring South Africa’s apartheid government.

Frelimo is a Portuguese acronym for the Front for the Liberation of

Mozambique while Renamo is an acronym for Mozambique National Resistance.

Since a UN-brokered peace accord ended the war, Mozambique has been

admired for its political stability, economic recovery and post-conflict

reconstruction.

Known for its friendly people, excellent seafood and long

palm-lined white beaches, the aluminium-exporting country has attracted private

investors and is also developing a strong tourist market. A number of hotels

have been built in the capital, Maputo, and on an archipelago of islands.

GDP grew by 7% in the first six months of 2009 but the effects of

the global financial crisis are starting to show.

Nineteen parties took part in yesterday’s presidential,

parliamentary and provincial assemblies elections. Results are expected on

November 1. Frelimo has won every vote since Mozambique’s first multiparty

election in 1994.


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