afrol News, 21 December - The ruling FRELIMO party candidate Armando Guebuza clearly won the 1-2 December presidential poll in Mozambique, according to the official results finally published today. Grave irregularities have been reported and the opposition demands a re-run. However, observers believe Mr Guebuza still received more than 50 percent of the vote.
Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) today finally published the official results of the presidential elections conducted three weeks ago. FRELIMO candidate Guebuza was said to have achieved 63.74 percent of the vote, while Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the RENAMO opposition party had achieved only 31.74 percent.
Mr Guebuza, who was chosen to succeed outgoing President Joaquim Chissano (FRELIMO), was widely expected to win the Mozambican presidential poll as RENAMO - a former rebel group supported by apartheid South Africa - recently has declined in public support. Most observers however did not expect a victory by such a clear margin, especially given the very low voters turnout at only 36 percent.
The 60-year-old official President-elect will become Mozambique's third-ever President, following Samora Machel - who was killed in a mysterious plane crash over South Africa in 1986 - and incumbent President Chissano. Mr Guebuza stands out from his predecessors of the ex-communist FRELIMO party by being a millionaire businessman.
While Mr Guebuza today earned the official recognition of the CNE, his scheduled succession of President Chissano in March 2005 is still far from assured. RENAMO candidate Dhlakama last week spoke on behalf of the united Mozambican opposition - a total of 20 parties - saying that FRELIMO was "plotting against democracy" by committing "massive fraud" at the elections.
The united opposition urged President Chissano to stay in power for an additional six months to oversee a re-run of the elections. According to Mr Dhlakama, armed police officers had prevented opposition supporters from voting and the CNE was grossly manipulating results at the suspiciously long tabulation process. The opposition withdrew its observers from the counting in protest.
While the CNE has blamed heavy rains and technical problems for the delays, the opposition this week found support among two foreign election observer teams. Observers from the European Union (EU) yesterday lamented what they called "serious irregularities", including police preventing poll monitoring and polling stations with a voter turnout exceeding 100 percent.
Today, the US-based Carter Centre published an equally critical "post-election statement" on Mozambique, reporting "several issues since the election days that were of concern," This included the arrest of RENAMO representatives in three provinces, delayed poll openings and low voter turnout. There had been "serious weaknesses in Mozambique's vote tabulation."
Despite "serious irregularities," however, the EU observers believed that the overall will of the Mozambican population would be reflected in the final results. Also the Carter Centre today said it did "not expect these irregularities to alter the overall outcome of the presidential election." They would however "undermine the credibility" of the CNE.
The inauguration of Mr Guebuza as Mozambique's third President in March now depends on legal action taken by RENAMO and other opposition parties. The opposition in any case has stated it will not take on its parliamentary seat during the next five years if there is no re-run of the elections.
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