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Mozambique - Elections 2009

In October 2009, Mozambique held simultaneous presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly elections. The results were much the same as 2004 with Frelimo candidate Armando Guebuza winning 75% of the presidential vote and Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo coming in second with nearly 14%; Daviz Simango of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) had 9.28% of the votes. Following parliamentary elections, Frelimo held 192 seats, Renamo 50, and MDM 8.

Formed in early 2009 by incumbent Mayor of Beira and former Renamo rising star Daviz Simango, MDM represented the largest new face in the 2009 elections. Almost 2 months prior to election day, the National Elections Commission (CNE) released the list of eligible parties for the three races. Alleging missing registration documentation, CNE excluded multiple opposition parties, most notably MDM, from running in the National Assembly and provincial assembly electoral process. MDM, now excluded from 7 of 11 provinces due to CNEs decision, appealed to the Mozambican Constitutional Council, which in turn upheld CNEs ruling.

On November 11, the National Elections Commission (CNE) announced that Armando Guebuza of the ruling FRELIMO party had been elected president in the October 28 multiparty general elections. While domestic and international observers noted that voting day procedures generally followed international norms, they also documented irregularities during voter registration, the campaign, and in the vote count. FRELIMO used significant state funds and resources for campaign purposes, in violation of electoral law.

In a statement released October 30, the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa questioned the transparency, integrity, impartiality, and independence of the CNE. It noted that improvements were required to "level the playing field, afford equal opportunity to all, and improve the transparency of the electoral process." The opposition parties RENAMO and Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) complained of election fraud and noted that FRELIMO agitators and provocateurs routinely disrupted campaign stops, drowning out speakers and candidates by revving motors, playing instruments, shouting, and occasionally throwing stones. They alleged that local authorities failed to respond to such provocative acts and that FRELIMO candidates suffered no such impediments during their campaigns. Opposition parties also accused FRELIMO of using state funds and resources for campaign purposes, in violation of electoral law.

In August the Constitutional Council (CC) disqualified six of nine presidential candidates for application signature irregularities. The decision was not subject to appeal. In contravention of law and its own past practice, the CC did not provide the rejected candidates with notice or an opportunity to respond.

In September the CNE disqualified several political parties and candidates from participating in legislative elections. The MDM, for example, was stricken from nine of 13 legislative districts. The CNE's action, which included backdating documents and questionable decisions, provoked protests from the diplomatic community, objections by civil society, and extensive commentary in the media.

In response to decisions by the CC and the CNE, the Center for Public Integrity called for an independent audit of electoral processes and highlighted several significant flaws in the electoral process. No such action was taken.

In the run-up to the elections, the coverage of the campaign by Radio Mocambique, Noticias, and Domingo was regarded by many political observers as balanced and neutral. However, the volume of coverage heavily favored incumbent President Guebuza over his opponents. Following the elections, the media reported observers' praise for polling day but failed to note their harsh criticism of the CNE or the view that the playing field was not level.

The political process was dominated by FRELIMO and by the executive branch of government, and such influence continued to grow. In the October elections, FRELIMO secured approximately 75 percent of the presidential vote and more than 75 percent of the seats in parliament. In 1999 FRELIMO won 133 of 250 seats in the parliament. In 2004 it raised its plurality to 160 seats. In 2003 it controlled 28 of 33 municipalities. By 2008 FRELIMO mayors had been elected in 42 of 43 municipalities, and it had become the largest party in all municipal assemblies, controlling 79.8 percent of all seats.

Opposition political parties were permitted to operate but were subject to some restriction and interference by the ruling party, including unlawful arrest, unlawful disqualification of candidates, and other interference by the ruling party and the government.

Women, including the prime minister, and members of many ethnic groups held key positions in both the legislative and executive branches. There was no evidence that women or specific ethnic groups were excluded from participation in the political process. A total of 10 of 51 ministers and deputy ministers were women.

Amidst rumors of Frelimo ties to both the Constitutional Council and CNE, the donor community voiced unified concern regarding the transparency of Mozambiques multi-party elections and continues to work with the Government of Mozambique to further electoral reform. Election day itself was considered well-run, peaceful, and generally well-organized, and most scrutiny was directed toward the pre-election decisions by the CNE and Constitutional Council. As a result of the irregularities in the election process, Freedom House removed Mozambique from its list of electoral democracies.





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