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File photo: European Union’s Election Observation Mission in Mozambique [Twitter]
The European Union’s Election Observation Mission in Mozambique on Friday issued a summary of the “irregularities and bad practices” it had observed on and after polling day, 15 October.
There were 170 EU observers deployed across the country on polling day, and the mission remained in the country until the end of the tabulation of the votes at district and provincial level.
The irregularities observed, says the statement from the EU Mission “included ballot box stuffing, people voting multiple times, deliberate invalidation of votes cast for opposition parties, and alteration of polling station results by the fraudulent addition of extra votes”.
In some parts of the country, the observers noted that improbably high turnouts were claimed, and there were sharp divergences in turnout between polling stations in the same polling assembly. There were also many cases of members of polling station staff (MMVs), public officials and voters caught outside the polling stations with extra ballot papers in their possession. Such irregularities “were observed in all the provinces”, the statement added.
The correct procedures for the close of polls were not uniformly observed, and in about a third of the polling stations observed the required reconciliation of ballot papers was not done before counting started.
As for the district tabulation, observed by the EU Mission in 51 of the 154 districts, the correct procedures were followed in only half of them. The observers considered that the reception at the districts of the polling station materials was “disorganised” in many places. The polling station results sheets (“editais”) should be completed at the polling stations – but the observers saw polling station staff completing editais while waiting in line to hand over materials in the district capitals.
At the district tabulation, officials simply copied out the polling station editais without checking their mathematical accuracy. As a result, the EU observers noted a significant number of inconsistencies, including claims that the number of votes cast was larger than the number of votes in the ballot box, or the number of voters registered to that polling station.
The observers noted cases of intimidation of political party monitors, and received “credible information” about other such cases. The EU observers became aware of “hundreds of cases in which polling station chairpersons expelled monitor and MMVs appointed by opposition parties, frequently with the assistance of the police”.
The EU expressed concern at the continued detention of party monitors after polling day, particularly in Gaza province. This refers to 17 monitors from a newly formed opposition party, Nova Democracia (New Democracy – ND), who have been accused of using false credentials, and were denied bail by a Gaza court.
The observer mission said the electoral management bodies should be held responsible for explaining all the irregularities. It added that the Constitutional Council, Mozambique’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law “now has the opportunity to respond to some of these irregularities during the validation of the results”.
A spokesperson for the Mission told AIM that copies of this statement have been sent to the National Elections Commission (CNE) and to the Constitutional Council.
The EU Mission will issue a final report on the Mozambican elections, after the Constitutional Council has validated and proclaimed the results. Judging from the previous general elections, in 2014, that is not likely to happen until late December.