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Renamo grows up

The party may not have got the local election results it wanted, but it is becoming a formidable political force at last

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

Good afternoon. In practical terms, the decision by Mozambique’s main opposition party Renamo to seek the prosecution of various public officials in connection with the disputed local elections last month (see below) may not make any difference. The Constitutional Council has now issued the final official election results. Although the council seems to have found a way of overlooking the clear evidence that Renamo got more votes than ruling party Frelimo in Maputo and Matola, Mozambique’s two biggest cities, its decision is final, and no prosecution can overturn it. Nor can Renamo’s requests to the council to explain its decisions.

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Still, the prosecutions have a symbolic importance, because, like Renamo’s previous attempts to challenge the results of the local elections, they show how far Renamo has come as a political force since previous elections. Election fraud in Mozambique is nothing new: indeed, it is as old as multi-party politics. But in the past, Renamo lacked the resources, talent and organisation to mount a serious challenge. That the Constitutional Council received around 40 appeals about election results this time was unprecedented. As well as its own efforts, the party also benefited from external support, including pro bono legal advice. This impressive performance may benefit Renamo in future elections, if it is seen as a more grown-up and credible alternative to Frelimo.

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