Early tally points to victory for Mozambique's ruling party

By Drum Digital
16 October 2014

Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party is likely to sweep hard-fought presidential and legislative elections, according to first results and unofficial projections released Thursday.

A partial vote count and projections by civil society groups suggested Frelimo's Filipe Nyusi will become the country's new president, winning around 60 percent, a huge drop from the 75 percent won by the party's candidate in the 2009 election.

With just over eight percent of polling stations reporting, Nyusi held 61 percent of the vote, according to the official tally, which was in line with the groups' forecasts.

"Preliminary numbers and projections indicate the Frelimo will win a landslide victory," said a report by the Centre for Public Integrity and the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa.

The vote took place against a backdrop of rising discontent over vast income disparities, despite a mineral resources windfall in the southern African nation.

Rapid economic growth has failed to benefit the bulk of a population that is among the world's poorest.

Nyusi's main opponent, rebel turned opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama of the Renamo party, was trailing in second position with 31 percent of votes, according to the projection.

The third and youngest of the presidential candidates, Daviz Simango, was in third position with eight percent, a similar percentage to his tally in 2009.

Voting was largely peaceful aside from sporadic clashes between police and opposition activists who claim that Frelimo, which has run Mozambique since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975, tried to stuff ballot boxes.

Paulo Cuinica, spokesman for the national Electoral Commission, said despite several incidents the polls had been "free and fair".

He confirmed unrest in several towns, including the opposition strongholds of Beira and Nampula where police fired teargas to disperse crowds.

"This was due to the desire by the people to watch the count but this is not allowed by the law. Police had to act," he told reporters.

He said six people were arrested in the coal-rich northwestern Tete province where "quite a number of polling stations were destroyed and material burnt."

Four polling stations failed to open in northwestern Niassa province because there were problems with the delivery of balloting material.

The opposition complained that many of their monitors were barred from watching the polls because their accreditation was not accepted. The electoral commission denied the claims.

European Union observers said opposition monitors were absent at up to 34 percent of polling stations.

The projections suggest a more balanced 250-seat parliament, with Frelimo's count reduced from 191 to 142, Renamo upping its presence from 51 seats to 75 and MDM from eight to 31 seats.

Nyusi, an engineer and former defence minister, is Frelimo's candidate to replace incumbent President Armando Guebuza, who is prohibited by the constitution from running for a third term.

-SAPA

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