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Mozambique - Elections 2014

In February 2914, after extensive negotiations with Renamo, the government passed new legislation that increased the number of National Electoral Commission members from 13 to 17, with five Frelimo, four Renamo, one MDM, and seven civil society appointees. The new laws also created politically designated leadership positions in the electoral administrative bodies at the national, provincial, and district levels.

Voters elected Filipe Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party as president during the October 2014 national elections. While domestic and international observers noted voting-day procedures generally followed international norms, they also documented irregularities during the campaign and in the vote count. Frelimo secured approximately 57 percent of the presidential vote and 144 of the 250 seats in Parliament. Independent reporting corroborated opposition parties accusations Frelimo used state funds and resources for campaign purposes, in violation of electoral law.

The National Assembly authorized a two-week delay in the start of the voter registration period for the October national elections in order to accommodate the participation of Renamo. Election authorities deployed a mobile registration brigade to allow Renamos presidential candidate to register to vote without having to leave Gorongosa, where he was living in seclusion. Through the registration process, 87.7 per cent of the estimated eligible 12.2 million voters were successfully registered.

Representatives of opposition parties and civil society complained about increased acts of bias and intimidation by the government and Frelimo. For example, in June election officials in the province of Cabo Delgado held local meetings excluding the newly designated Renamo members, alleging a lack of meeting space. In August officials from the Maputo Municipal Council, accompanied by the national police, arrived unannounced at the local MDM election headquarters and destroyed a large sign outside its facility. In a subsequent meeting with MDM officials, after initially asserting the sign represented either illegal campaigning or unpaid commercial advertising, Maputo municipal officials committed to provide an official explanation for the signs destruction but failed to do so.

Frelimo continued to dominate the political process, and its influence continued to grow. Opposition political parties could operate but were sometimes subject to restrictions, including unlawful arrest, and other interference from the ruling party and the government. Membership in the ruling Frelimo party was widely perceived to confer advantages. The Sofala provincial government, which is appointed by the central government, announced plans in June administratively to divide the municipality of Beira, which would reduce the municipality to one-third its original size. Beira Mayor and MDM President Daviz Simango, who won re-election in November 2013 with more than 70 percent of the vote, claimed the divisions were designed to weaken the MDM in its strongest area of support. The central government deferred after it determined the proposed administrative divisions would require approval by the National Assembly.

Cases of violence and vandalism by Frelimo party members, including breaking into opposition party offices and tearing down banners, occurred without strong responses from police or the government.

In 2015, sporadic violent clashes between government security forces and armed RENAMO elements in the central and northern provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia resulted in injuries and deaths on both sides. The government increased its security presence throughout these regions and specifically in key towns/villages near RENAMO strongholds. These incidents have occurred mostly in rural areas away from the general population, but several clashes along major thoroughfares garnered public, media, and international community attention. The threat of violence has also adversely affected the tourism industry, specifically for wildlife parks. Although a cease-fire agreement from September 2014 is technically still in place, clashes between the government and opposition have occurred in the period since the international observers departed in July 2015.

Since March 2015, at least 10 high-profile figures had been killed from both sides. The brazen killing in Octobe 2016 of a senior opposition negotiator, Jeremias Pondeca, dealt a blow to Mozambique's already troubled peace talks, further postponing the oft-delayed closed-door talks aimed at finding a path to peace in this Southern African nation. For more than a year, Mozambique's ruling party and opposition had engaged in stop-and-start peace talks that had no resolution. The two sides were enemies during Mozambique's brutal, 15-year civil war. After that conflict ended in 1992, the Renamo rebel group turned political opposition and contested every national election, losing them all and crying foul every time as the ruling Frelimo party again swept to power. The fractious 2014 election sparked fresh turmoil, with Renamo's leader renewing conflict in his strongholds. The talks were supposed to finally find a solution and address Renamo's demands for greater role in politics, government and administration.

The conflict between the ruling Front for Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the opposing Mozambique Resistance Movement (RENAMO) pushed the countrys civilian population in the crosshairs. In fear for their lives, 12,000 Mozambicans fled to neighboring Malawi since mid 2015. Among Renamos key requests are demand for six provincial governors and the inclusion of its militia in the army and police. There has been a decades-long struggle over how much power to decentralize to municipalities and this carries over into the negotiations, with strong opposition to elected governors and to any formalisation of decentralization that would give power to governors not named by a Frelimo president. Renamo has underlined that the priority issue of the negotiations is to agree a decentralisation proposal to be put to parliament. In November 2016 Frelimo proposed an expert subcommittee of the joint negotiating commission to draft a proposal for parliament. Renamo objected on two grounds - that the commission excluded the mediators, and that the government negotiators had no authority to make concessions because of the sharp divisions within Frelimo.

Frelimo seemed so divided that it was extremely difficult to agree a negotiating position - a position that applied to the debt as well as the war. From the start, some in Frelimo wanted to defeat Renamo militarily and opposed serious negotiations. Then there was opposition to the international mediators demanded by Renamo.

Renamo extended a ceasefire for two months until March 4 to allow dialogue with the government of President Filipe Nyusi and to reduce civilian deaths, its leader Afonso Dhlakama said on 03 January 2017.

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