Mozambique’s Frelimo appears headed for big election win

World

In this Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, photo, vote counting takes place after polling station closed in Maputo, Mozambique. Calls for calm and warnings against voter intimidation marked a closely watched election day in the country that is crucial in consolidating a wary peace in the southern African nation of nearly 30 million people. (AP Photo/Ferhat Momade)

BILENE, Mozambique (AP) — Unofficial results in Mozambique’s elections point to sweeping victories for the ruling Frelimo party and Presidenti Filipe Nyusi, prompting some analysts to question the credibility of the polls and warn that the lopsided result may prolong the country’s instability.

Mozambique’s electoral commission has not released any official results yet, but the Sala da Paz consortium of Mozambican civil society organizations said it projects that Nyusi won 71% of the vote, far ahead of 21% for Ossufo Momade, leader of the Renamo opposition party. The estimates are based on the group’s calculations of results posted outside polling stations.

The Frelimo party, in power since the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975, looks set to dominate the parliamentary elections and may win most of the 10 provincial governor positions, according to the civic group, the Center for Public Integrity.

Renamo’s Momade is in a tight race for governor of Nampula, Mozambique’s most populous province, according to unofficial results.

The reports of a landslide victory for Frelimo come despite a tightly fought campaign, where large rallies suggested Renamo’s popularity, especially in central and northern Mozambique.

However, the Oct. 15 elections were marked by restrictions on observers and several reports of suspected ballot stuffing with some people apprehended carrying backpacks with ballots marked for Frelimo.

The European Union’s observer mission criticized many aspects of the election, including lack of independent monitors of the vote-counting process.

“The absence of national observers in almost half of observed polling stations did not contribute to the transparency of the process,” said chief EU observer Sánchez Amor.

The apparent magnitude of Frelimo’s win was criticized by some independent analysts.

“A crushing electoral victory for Frelimo and president Filipe Nyusi … will divide the country and push a lasting peace further away,” said Nathan Hayes, analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Frelimo victories in the historical opposition strongholds of Sofala, Zambezia, Manica, Nampula and Tete provinces … would be a serious setback for the country’s peace process and multiparty democracy.”

If Renamo rejects the election results, it would be a severe blow to efforts to establish peace across Mozambique. A peace accord between Renamo and the government was signed in August, but an estimated 5,800 armed rebels loyal to Renamo have not yet turned in their weapons. A group purporting to represent those rebels have already warned that they will not disarm if they do not view the election as fair.

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