Terror-plagued Mozambique heads to elections


FRELIMO, Mozambique

from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
Mozambique Bureau
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THE Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) is tipped to maintain its almost five-decade stranglehold on power when the Southern African country holds municipal elections this week.

The polls to be held on Wednesday are seen as a dress rehearsal for the presidential poll to be held next year.

Insurgency by Islamist sects north of Mozambique has overshadowed preparations for this week’s exercise and reports of political intolerance, despite calls by authorities for a peaceful campaign.

A total of 22 parties and civil society organisations are running for local mayoral and legislative positions in the 65 municipalities.

FRELIMO, at the helm since independence from Portugal in 1975, currently controls 44 municipalities. The lead opposition, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) has eight, including Nampula and Quelimane. The Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) controls one municipality in Beira.

The government created twelve new municipalities for the 2023 ballot.

FRELIMO has won every national election since the end of the 17-year civil war with RENAMO in 1992.

Allegations of voter fraud by opposition parties and international observers have consistently tainted elections.

While the situation is calm currently, campaigns in 2004, 2014, and 2019 were marked by violence, intimidation and allegations of widespread fraud and violations of electoral law on polling day.

The United States recently issued an advisory to its citizens in Mozambique, warning that throughout the campaign and election period, as well as the days following the elections, rallies and demonstrations are likely to occur.

“These events may be unpredictable and have the potential to turn violent with little or no notice,” the embassy in Mozambique stated.

Ahead of this week’s polls, Mozambique president, Filipe Nyusi, warned against malpractices.

“In electoral processes such as the one we find ourselves, emerge malicious people who abuse fundamental freedoms for lack of legal literacy, or citizens who are easily manipulated by those who seek to come to power and engage in electoral illegalities,” he said.

He encouraged parties aggrieved by the conduct and outcome of the election to use appropriate legal mechanisms.

Last week, he inaugurated two courts to deal with such matters.

“We are a country that needs stability,” Nyusi, in power since 2015, said.

The Islamist insurgency in the resources-rich north has starved the country of some 34 million people of stability, since 2017.

Last Wednesday, Mozambique celebrated the Day of Peace and Reconciliation, which Nyusi said was in the face of terrorism, which he termed a serious and new threat to peace in Mozambique.

“This phenomenon and the political-military tensions have never made Mozambicans a resigned or wretched people. They have always sought to find ways to peace through dialogue,” he said.

More than 850 000 people remain internally displaced in northern Mozambique, where Cabo Delgado province is the epicentre.

“With soaring food prices and escalating operational costs, people affected by the conflict are having to endure even greater hardships,” Antonella D’Aprile, World Food Programme’s (WFP) Country Director in Mozambique, said.

The envoy spoke while welcoming a contribution of US$1,5 million (JP¥ 200 million) from Japan to provide life-saving assistance to 50 000 people in northern Mozambique.

In 2021, Mozambique was ranked at the top of the list of countries most affected worldwide by extreme weather patterns.

– CAJ News



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