EU casts doubt on credibility of Mozambique election

EU casts doubt on credibility of Mozambique election

A man walks by a wall plastered mainly with posters of the presidential candidate from the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), Ossufo Momade, in Central Maputo, Mozambique on September 3, 2019. Picture: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

Among the irregularities were ‘ballot-box stuffing, multiple voting…and altering of polling station results with the fraudulent addition of extra votes’.

The European Union on Friday cast doubt on the credibility of Mozambique’s ruling party’s victory in last month’s election, saying its observers detected a litany of “irregularities and malpractices” and called on authorities to clarify them.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 percent in the October 15 vote, but the main opposition and former rebel group Renamo has appealed over what it says was massive electoral fraud.

The election posed a major challenge to the country’s already fragile peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo who fought a civil war from 1975-1992 that left one million dead.

Their peace deal has not been recognised by a hardline faction of Renamo that has rejected calls for disarmament.

The EU observation mission said that among the irregularities were “ballot-box stuffing, multiple voting, intentional invalidation of votes for the opposition, and altering of polling station results with the fraudulent addition of extra votes”.

Its statement said the EU Election Observation Mission also noted unlikely turnout figures, deviations between polling stations in the same polling centre, and poll workers, civil servants, and electors found with ballot papers outside polling stations.

“The EU EOM considers that the electoral administration is to take responsibility for clarifying the irregularities,” it said.

“EU observers were made aware of hundreds of cases countrywide of polling station presidents expelling opposition party agents and party-appointed poll workers, often with the assistance of police.”

Mozambican civil society and international observers had already flagged numerous alleged attempts to stuff ballot boxes and chase away election monitors, as well as hundreds of thousands of so-called “ghost voters” on the electoral roll.

In the wake of the election Renamo has accused the government of “massive electoral fraud” and breaching the country’s peace deal by using violence and intimidation on voting day.

Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975, has hailed the elections as free and fair.

Mozambique saw one of its most violent campaigns ever with at least 10 people killed in the run-up to the polls, according to a local observer mission.

Observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also approved of the election, saying the run-up to the vote and the balloting itself were “generally peaceful”.

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