Mozambique elections: Renamo alleges voter intimidation and fraud

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 16, 2014

While the votes are being counted in Mozambique’s presidential and legislative elections on Wednesday, former rebels now-turned-opposition-party Renamo accused the ruling party, Frelimo, on Thursday of intimidation and fraud in the closely-fought general election.

Frelimo, whose presidential candidate Filipe Nyusi is widely viewed as favourite to win, dismissed the accusations as made in "bad faith".

The alleged irregularities, which could not be confirmed, raised fears of a possible disputed outcome from Wednesday's vote.

The national electoral commission was expected to start announcing provisional results from Thursday. International observers, said voting had gone ahead generally peacefully despite police clashing late on Wednesday with protesting Renamo supporters in the centre of Mozambique’s second city of Beira, and also in Nampula in the north. At least one person suffered gunshot wounds and there were a number of arrests. Mozambique's port capital Maputo has so far remained calm.

Frelimo candidate Nyusi, a former defence minister, is facing a determined challenge from veteran Renamo contender and former rebel chief Afonso Dhlakama, who fought Frelimo in the 1975-1992 civil war that immediately followed Mozambique's independence from Portugal.

Daviz Simango of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) is also a contender for the presidency.

Intimidation and fraud

With tabulation of votes still underway by election officials, prominent Renamo parliamentarian Ivone Soares accused the police in northern Nampula province of intimidating electors, of harassing her personally, and of trying to influence the vote outcome in favour of Frelimo.

"It seems as though it's the police who are running the elections," said Soares. "How will it be a transparent process?"

Another Renamo deputy and spokesman of the party's parliamentary group, Arnaldo Chalaua, accused state TV and radio of selectively announcing individual polling station results to try to give the impression that Frelimo's Nyusi had already won.

"There is a fraud going on," he said, although both he and Soares said Renamo had not yet adopted any final position as a party on how it would react to the eventual election outcome.

Frelimo spokesman Damiao Jose rejected the allegations made by the Renamo deputies. "There were no irregularities. The process was orderly, transparent and peaceful," he told Reuters.