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A dirty compromise

The local election results are the result of a deal between the two main parties rather than an impartial decision by judges

Today’s front pages in Maputo. Photo credit: Faizal Chauque / Zitamar News

Good afternoon. After a month of protests, court cases and occasional police brutality, the final results of Mozambique’s hotly contested local elections have been announced, and they are likely to please nobody. Previous results gave victory to ruling party Frelimo in 64 out of 65 municipalities. As we noted a few days after the vote, it was impossible that Frelimo could have won in so many places without fraud. Sure enough, widespread evidence soon emerged to suggest that opposition party Renamo had won the most votes in several municipalities awarded to Frelimo, including the capital city of Maputo and the biggest city of Matola.

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🗳 The Constitutional Council has given victory to opposition party Renamo in four towns and cities in the local elections held last month, overturning the victory given to ruling party Frelimo in those places. Its ruling follows widespread reports and evidence of fraud and wrongdoing, in favour of…

The Constitutional Council has declared Renamo the winner in one city, Quelimane, and three towns, Chiure, Alto Molócue and Vilankulo. It has also ordered a complete re-run of the election in the town of Marromeu, and a partial re-run in three other municipalities. But it stopped short of declaring Renamo the winner in Maputo and Matola, which if confirmed would have been major prizes. Yet the More Integrity coalition of election observers has reported that a detailed count of the vote results sheets shows that Renamo did indeed get more votes in both cities. How to explain this?

Our information is that the council’s election rulings, while they may follow the letter of the law, are essentially guided by a behind-the-scenes negotiation between Frelimo and Renamo, in which each side agreed how to divide up the election results among themselves. Basically, it appears that the actual election results are being respected in some places, but not all. Renamo persuaded Frelimo to give up a few municipalities, but the leadership of the latter insisted on holding on to Maputo and Matola, in spite of the evidence that it had lost them. The council seems to have acted opportunistically in some cases to find legal arguments to fit the results that this negotiation demanded. In other cases, it behaved with its usual caution and conservatism.

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