The head of the SADC Electoral Mission to Mozambique Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri observed the voting process in some stations when voting commenced on October 15 2019. Image: @SADC_News
The head of the SADC Electoral Mission to Mozambique Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri urged Mozambicans to remain patient and committed to peace as the vote counting process continued.
Kashiri was speaking at the release of preliminary statements by the heads of international observer missions held on October 17 at the AFECC Gloria Hotel in Maputo. She said the pre-election and voting phases were generally peaceful and conducted in an orderly manner.
“The mission urges all political leaders and their supporters to be patient and remain committed to peace while the results are being compiled for validation and proclamation by the Constitutional Council,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
Four candidates are contesting Mozambique’s October 15 presidential election. Challenging incumbent President Filipe Nyusi of the ruling party Frelimo are Ossufo Momade of Renamo, Daviz Simango of the Movimento Democrático de Moçambique and Mario Albino from the AMUSI party. There are over 13 million registered voters.
Frelimo looks set to win in what was expected to be a tense two-way race between Frelimo and Renamo.
Frelimo and Renamo were once locked in a devastating civil war for fifteen years which began two years after the country attained independence from Portugal in 1976.
While the civil war officially ended in 1992 tensions between Renamo and Frelimo have continued with Renamo resorting to arms again from 2013 to 2016.
There are hopes that the recent peace deal between the two foes will will usher in a lasting peace. President Filipe Nyusi, representing Frelimo, and new Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, signed a peace deal in August 1 which was meant to pave the way towards a peaceful electoral process.
The deal, signed at the Gorongosa National Park, was viewed as symbolic. Renamo had used the park as a base for it’s armed fighters for more than 40 years.
Speaking at the signing ceremony the outgoing chairperson of Southern African Development Community, Namibian President Hage Geingob, said the signing of the peace deal would go down in history as a day where the pendulum swum in favour of lasting peace for Mozambicans.
“This final act of my tenure is without doubt one of the highlights of what has been a fulfilling year,” Geingob said.
For this election the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has deployed a 44 member AU Election Observation Mission.
The team is led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and has been in Mozambique since October 9. It will remain in place until the conclusion of the electoral process.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who heads the African Union Election Observation Mission, was quoted on Twitter.
Ghanaian President John Mahama leads the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) Election Observer Mission and met with Mozambique’s National Election Commission (CEN) on October 12. He said they will work closely with CEN.
“Mozambique in a way is a bit like Ghana, you have two dominant parties. And normally when you have two dominant parties then the stakes in the elections are much higher,”
Later, his delegation met with that of the AU when the two observer missions went to pay a courtesy visit to president Nyusi on the eve of the election. This was the last leg after several engagements with other institutions that have different roles in the electoral process.
“We’ve met the technical department working on the elections. We’ve met the security agencies, we’ve met the political parties and all the stakeholders. We’ve had discussions with them about what their concerns are,” he explained.
Election observer’s death looms large
According to Human Rights Watch, on October 7, it is alleged that election observer Anastancio Matavel was shot by five police officers in a car. This was allegedly after he climbed into his vehicle following a training session for election observers in Xai-Xai city, Gaza province.
Matavel was the founder and executive director of FONGA-Gaza NGO Forum, and chairman of the General Assembly of JOINT-Liga of NGOs in Mozambique.
In a joint letter addressed to the Mozambique government, civil society organisations said the killing of a human rights defenders involved in elections monitoring gravely undermined the possibility of free and fair elections.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has also condemned the killing. In a statement, released on October 11, saying there has been a clampdown on journalists and activists in the run up to the elections.