Good afternoon. The news that Mozambique's main opposition party Renamo will “boycott” the local election in Nacala-Porto on Sunday (see below) should cause concern. Not because it suggests that the election may not be free or fair: we already know that it may well not be, because, as this newsletter suggested and was later confirmed, the election will be run by the same dishonest officials who oversaw electoral fraud last time. The concern is that it could lead to violence.
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The latest from Zitamar News:
The situation in Nacala-Porto is tense. Local Renamo supporters are militant and have protested violently before. In this situation, any kind of statement by Renamo challenging the election is liable to be interpreted as grounds to take to the streets and riot. The pressure group the Centre for Public Integrity has transcribed a statement in a video posted online by Renamo supporters, warning residents to stay away from polling places on the day of the election and threatening that they will show their “bad side”.
Which is not to say that Renamo should do nothing. The decision by local officials to boycott the election, which has come one week after the date for the election was confirmed, probably reflects an assessment that it was not likely Renamo could change the election result for Nacala-Porto as a result of this mini-vote, which is only taking place in two areas of the municipality. In practice, a boycott probably means that the party will not send supporters or delegates to polling places, and will not monitor the vote count. Its name will still be on the ballot paper.