from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – THE Constitutional Council’s overturning of the municipal election results in Mozambique is testament to the Southern African country’s status as a maturing democracy.
However, it has plunged the nation into further upheaval and given credence to complaints that the October 11 poll was rigged in favour of the ruling Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), in power at the former Portuguese colony since independence in 1975.
The election standoff is a bad omen for presidential/general pollsset for October 2024.
Protests led by the main opposition National Resistance Movement (RENAMO) have rocked the resources-rich nation since the National Elections Commission (CNE) announced FRELIMO as the winner with a landslide.
The electoral body declared FRELIMO as victorious in 64 of 65 municipalities under contest.
In a fresh twist to the beleaguered electoral exercise, the Constitutional Council (CC) has overturned the CNE’s announcement.
CC, the last body of appeal in the electoral process, has ruled that FRELIMO won 56 municipalities, RENAMO four and the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) one.
CC has called for new elections in four other municipalities where irregularities were cited.
CNE has reportedly proposed the re-runs to be held on December 10.
RENAMO and the MDM still rejected the latest set of results and called for nationwide protests.
RENAMO accuses CC of “cancelling fraud of the CNE with some adjustments that do not do electoral justice to the people.”
A wave of protests again swept through the capital Maputo on Tuesday as RENAMO leaders and supporters demonstrated against the proclamation of FRELIMO as the winner.
Demonstrators, among them the Maputo candidate of RENAMO, Venâncio Mondlane, threatened to make the area ungovernable.
“The time has come for the people to prove that they are in power,” Mondlane urged protesters.
Speaking at Blue Revolution Mega Rally held at the vast Xipamanine Market, he said the demonstrations were “to bring victory back to the people.”
“The time has come to paralyse the economy,” the opposition official said.
RENAMO will also proceed with a criminal complaint against the CC judges over the announcement of the election results.
The party has also submitted criminal complaints against the Mozambique Republic Police and the public broadcaster, Television of Mozambique, for allegedly having collaborated in “the violation of the fundamental principles of citizens’ rights and freedoms” in the local elections.
RENAMO leader, Ossufo Momade, said the party will turn to international institutions to “recognise the sovereignty of the people.”
That points to the opposition party seeking the intervention of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), accused by critics as a league of liberation movements and ruling parties siding with dictators.
SADC is currently beset with complaints from opposition in Zimbabwe and concerns by some opposition in Eswatini over elections in the two member states, while polls in Madagascar were also marred by rigging claims.
RENAMO and FRELIMO are credited with liberating Mozambique but fell out at the attainment of independence.
This culminated in a civil war that ended in 1992, with 1 million people killed in one of Africa’s longest running conflicts.
RENAMO has been the biggest opposition and intermittently a rebel group.
In 2019, the two parties signed the Maputo Accord for Peace and Reconciliation to bring stability in the country of 33 million people.
The recent elections are thus a major test to this fragile reconciliation.
Security experts have forecast further protests through mid-December amid elevated tensions.
In Maputo, the Avenida 24 de Julho and near the Statue of Samora Machel is a hotspot for protests.
Protests are brewing in Beira and Quelimane.
Authorities have heightened security amid fears of clashes between rival political parties.
Mozambique is also battling terrorism by Islamist groups north of the country.
– CAJ News