Maputo, 28 Nov (AIM) – The fact that there can be no appeal against decisions by Mozambique’s Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, does not make the Council infallible, warns the consortium of civil society observation bodies, “Mais Integridade” (“More Integrity”).
In a release reacting to the Constitutional Council’s proclamation last Friday of the final results from the municipal elections held on 11 October, the consortium said its ruling “leave doubts about the truth of the elections”.
It recognized that the Council declared the main opposition party, Renamo, the winner in four municipalities (Quelimane, Chiure, Alto Molocue and Vilankulo) which the National Elections Commission (CNE) had fraudulently given to the ruling Frelimo Party in the preliminary results.
It also restored to Renamo many thousands of votes that had been stolen from it.
But the Council did not explain its decisions, Mais Integridade said the Council “was not precise about the mathematics it used to ensure that some municipalities passed into the hands of the opposition, but others that also showed signs of serious irregularities, remained with Frelimo”.
The Council changed the results announced by the CNE, but did not explain why. Votes were taken from Frelimo and given to Renamo, and even where this did not result in a change in overall control of the municipality, it altered the number of seats each party held in the municipal assemblies.
In Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola, tens of thousands of votes were switched from Frelimo to Renamo, although Frelimo retained control in both cities.
But rather than explain in detail why it had made these changes, the Constitutional Council simply said, in each and every case, “the results proceeded from the re-verification of the data in accordance with the proof produced”.
It did not state what this proof was or what data had been rechecked. The polling station results sheets (“editais”) are the only source for election results. But the Council did not say which editais it had used.
Opposition parties had submitted their own copies of the editais to the Council, but it did not explain whether it had used them. Observer groups such as Mais Integridade had undertaken their own parallel count of the results (which showed that Renamo had won in Maputo and Matola), but the Council made no reference to these counts.
The consortium admits that the Constitutional Council has the power to alter editais if, for example, it finds mathematical mistakes in them. But it insisted that the Council ought to explain these decisions.
The Council has ordered a repeat of the election in the entire municipality of Marromeu and in a significant number of polling stations in Nacala, Gurue and Milange.
Mais Integridade asked why should the election be repeated in Marromeu, but not in Maputo or Matola “where serious irregularities were also reported which could have influenced the results”?
The Constitutional Council’s ruling said nothing about any measures to be taken against those electoral administration bodies involved in the fraud, particularly in Marromeu, where fraud has occurred repeatedly over the years.
The Council seems content to leave this in the hands of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The consortium concluded that the Constitutional Council “lost an opportunity to send a clear message that it will not do deals with, or tolerate, the serious irregularities and crimes that took place during this year’s municipal elections”.
By failing to take measures “that might wound certain political party interests, particularly in the major cities such as Maputo and Matola, the Constitutional Council abstained from its role as the final pillar safeguarding our democratic rule of law”.
Although it condemned “in the most vehement terms the biased way in which the Council and the CNE acted in these elections”, the consortium urged opposition parties, particularly Renamo, “to channel their protests within a framework that guarantees the maintenance of concord and peace”.