Mozambique - Elections 2004
The third general elections occurred in December 2004. During the year, citizens freely exercised their right to vote in the country's third multiparty general elections. Voting day procedures generally followed international norms; however, the political campaign season and the vote count were marred by irregularities in isolated parts of the country.
Tensions between supporters of the two major parties, RENAMO and FRELIMO, continued throughout the year. The most notable incident occurred in July in Inhaminga, Sofala Province, when local police detained two RENAMO members for beating up a FRELIMO delegate and his wife. In reaction, a large crowd of RENAMO members stormed the police station and released the suspects. This led to a response by a large contingent of the FIR police fighting with RENAMO loyalists over the next 3 days. At least one FIR member was killed, but no RENAMO loyalists were killed in the altercation. In subsequent months, there were reports of further altercations between RENAMO and the FIR in Sofala, leading to injuries but no deaths.
There were also several reports that FRELIMO loyalists in Tete Province destroyed a local RENAMO party headquarters, with no response by law enforcement.
The 40-day campaign season leading up to the general elections was mostly peaceful, reportedly more so than previous campaigns, but observers reported multiple incidents in which members of one party were harassed and beaten by members of another party, particularly in rural areas. Altercations generally involved rock throwing, fistfights, and destruction of property; no killings were reported. Police generally declined to intervene in disputes, siding de facto with the aggressor party. FRELIMO used significant federal funds and resources for campaign purposes, in violation of election law.
The elections held on December 1 and 2, were peaceful. Voter turnout was lower than in past presidential elections, estimated near 40 percent. The National Elections Commission managed the voting process; the Commission consisted of a FRELIMO majority and a RENAMO minority. In several cases, the election authorities were not able to get voting materials to rural areas, many of which were predominantly pro-RENAMO, by the morning of December 1, which reduced the ability for some to vote. Election observers were allowed to observe the voting process and vote tabulation at the polling stations on December 2, but were not always able to watch the subsequent vote counting at the provincial or national level, leaving open the possibility of fraud. In some cases, most notably in Changara district of Tete province, and also in parts of Niassa and Gaza provinces, reported results implied unrealistically high voter turnouts and caused journalists and observer missions to allege pro-FRELIMO ballot-stuffing. However, the final presidential and legislative election results closely tracked the parallel vote counts carried out by observers. Guebuza and FRELIMO won the elections with a large majority of the vote. Observer missions and journalists alleged that irregularities in Tete Province appeared to have been significant enough to tilt that province's representation in the National Assembly more strongly in favor of FRELIMO.
In late December, RENAMO issued complaints of election fraud to the National Election Commission, asking for a repeat of the election. The Commission rejected RENAMO's major claims but did recognize that some problems had taken place, and did alter the results in Zambezia province, switching one National Assembly seat from FRELIMO to RENAMO. Also, the Commission forwarded cases of fraud in Tete to the provincial prosecutor's office for possible further action but did not alter the results. RENAMO forwarded its complaints to a Constitutional Council for further review.
The November 2003 municipal elections were considered by international observers to be generally free and fair; however, there were concerns about irregular vote counts in the Beira municipal election, which took 3 weeks to resolve before RENAMO was finally determined the winner. In the end, FRELIMO won 28 and RENAMO 5 of the country's 33 municipalities. Voter turnout was low throughout the country, estimated by the Government at 24 percent. Smaller parties participated in the elections, but received few votes.
Throughout the year, there was an intense national debate over the enfranchisement of emigrants. FRELIMO officially supported the right of emigrants to vote; however, most opposition parties, including RENAMO, were suspicious of FRELIMO's willingness to operate the country's embassies impartially, and therefore advocated denying emigrants the franchise. In July, the National Electoral Commission decided that Mozambican expatriates in South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Portugal, and Germany would be registered to vote for the first time in the nation's history. During the September registration period, over 47,000 new voters were registered in these countries, nearly 70 percent of them in South Africa. Reports indicated that only FRELIMO had a significant organizational presence in this registration process.
From June 28 through July 15, citizens were able to register for the December elections. This time period was smaller than the 30-day period available in past years, leading to complaints by opposition parties (particularly RENAMO) that they did not have sufficient time to get all the voters in their rural base registered.
On December 22, Armando Guebuza of FRELIMO was declared the winner with 64 percent of the vote, compared with 32 percent for Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO; three minor parties received the remaining votes. The estimated 44% turnout was well below the almost 70% turnout in the 1999 general elections. Frelimo won 160 seats in parliament. A coalition of Renamo and several small parties won the 90 remaining seats. Armando Guebuza was inaugurated as the President of Mozambique on February 2, 2005. Elections in Mozambique’s 43 municipalities took place on November 19, 2008. Frelimo mayoral candidates won in 42 of the 43 contests.
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