- The presidential and parliamentary elections in Mozambique last week have generally been hailed as "so far" free and fair by international election observers, although the observers were denied access to the final tabulation phase. The poll was conducted in a more professional way than in the 1999 and 2003 elections.
Several international election observer teams are in Mozambique at the invitation of the government. These include delegations from the European Union (EU) - which finances a large part of the poll - the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Carter Centre.
Former US President Jimmy Carter personally led the observer team from the Carter Centre, in partnership with former Beninese President Nicéphore Soglo. This is the third poll in Mozambique supervised by ex-President Carter.
- I personally inspected 125 voting places and found the process orderly, well supplied with all necessary materials, and the officials dedicated and well trained, Mr Carter stated today. "There were few problems of any kind that would interfere with the integrity of the election, and multiple party observers were present at all sites," he added.
The team of 60 election observers by the Carter Centre however emphasised that the tabulation and verification of final results are ongoing. It was therefore "too early to evaluate the election as a whole." In particular the national, final tabulation was a source of concern.
In the 1999 poll, international observers had not been given full access to the final tabulation process, during which more than 500,000 cast ballots were questioned by the National Election Commission (CNE) and invalidated. President Joaquim Chissano was re-elected by a narrow margin. The opposition therefore alleged poll rigging, something that was rejected by the Supreme Court.
To avoid a similar event this year, observers from the EU and the Carter Centre had demanded access to the national tabulation, which according to the CNE was not allowed by the Mozambican election law. Unless changed, this decision would "prevent our certifying the results as representing the will of the electorate," Mr Carter has stated.
There were also critical remarks from the election observer teams regarding the composition of the CNE. A majority of the commission's members had been drawn from the ruling FRELIMO party. This could undermine the credibility of the CNE, several observers held.
There were observed very few irregularities during the election campaign and during the vote casting. 27 polling stations however had to remain closed due to very heavy rains, making the inaccessible. The SADC observer team thus urged the Mozambican government to consider organising future elections during the dry season.
In general, however, the CNE and Mozambican authorities were praised for the way the elections were conducted. "With few exceptions, the election was conducted properly," Mr Carter reported. "Overall, we were pleased with this demonstration of democracy and peace," he added.
Few results of the poll have so far been published. In the presidential election, the very few available results indicate a landslide victory for Armando Guebuza, the candidate from the ruling FRELIMO party to take over after President Chissano. Mr Guebuza so far had achieved almost the double of votes than his main rival, the opposition RENAMO's Afonso Dhlakama.
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