Maputo, 10 Dec (AIM) – The Mozambican civil society election monitoring forum, the Sala da Paz (“Peace Room”) has warned that the repeat municipal elections held on Sunday in the municipalities of Marromeu, Nacala-Port, Gurue and Milange were characterized by a range of “electoral crimes”.
Addressing a press conference, the Sala da Paz spokesperson, Duarte Amaral, said that ballot box stuffing, and police intimidation and violence had characterized the elections.
For instance, in one Marromeu polling station, “a young man was found with ballot papers marked in advance for Frelimo, and he was physically attacked”, said Amaral. “At the same school, the chairperson of a polling station was removed under police escort after agitation, when it was found that ballots marked in favour of Frelimo had been put in the ballot box before voting began”.
Despite the poor turnout, Amaral added, there were polling stations were the police opened fire on the voters. This happened, for example, at the Gurue Secondary School, where another attempt at ballot box stuffing was discovered.
One citizen was caught red-handed in possession of ballot papers marked in advance for Frelimo, while, at the same polling station, some voters “claimed they were prevented from voting”.
Amaral added that in some parts of Gurue, the New Democracy (ND) party had stationed more than one monitor per polling station, and resisted when asked to withdraw the surplus monitors. No party is allowed to have more than one monitor inside a polling station at any one time.
In Nacala, there was a particularly poor turnout which Amaral blamed on the decision by the local members of the main opposition party, Renamo, to boycott the repeat election.
Although the Renamo leadership in Maputo wanted to take part in the election, the Nacala membership of the party insisted that a new election should be held in the entire municipality, and not just in some of the polling stations.
The boycott means that Renamo will not be able to monitor the repeat election in Nacala.