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STAE's sopkesperson Claudio Langa adressing the press in Maputo yesterday . [Photo: Miramar]
Mozambique’s Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) on Thursday guaranteed that security conditions are in place for all polling stations to operate next Tuesday, the date of the country’s general and provincial elections.
There are 20,570 polling stations – 20,162 inside Mozambicans and 408 in the nine countries where Mozambicans in the diaspora have the right to vote.
The assurance of security, given by STAE spokesperson Claudio Langa at a Maputo press conference, came as something of a surprise given the attacks by terrorist groups in several districts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Langa admitted that STAE is concerned about the Cabo Delgado situation, but said the Cabo Delgado Provincial Elections Commission and the provincial branch of STAE are monitoring the situation on a daily basis with the local security bodies to see whether or not opening the polling stations is feasible.
“At the due moment, if necessary, the Cabo Delgado Commission and STAE will inform the National Elections Commission (CNE) about the level of security and tranquillity”, he said. That would allow the CNE to take a decision as to whether the polling stations can be opened.
There are 1,860 polling stations in Cabo Delgado, but only a relatively small number are in the areas of conflict. The election observation coalition, known as the Sala da Paz (Peace Room), takes a less sanguine view than STAE, and believes that 40 polling stations will be unable to open.
Langa said 160,000 candidates for polling station staff (MMVs) are being trained. The training finishes on Friday, after which 143,990 will be selected and hired.
There should be seven MMVs per polling station, four chosen by STAE on the basis of public tendering, and one appointed by each of the political parties represented in parliament – the ruling Frelimo Party, the main opposition force, Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
All – even those appointed by the parties – will be paid an allowance out of the electoral budget. The polling station chairperson will receive 3,700 meticais (about 60 US dollars), the deputy chairperson 3,500 meticais and the other four 3,200 meticais each. They will also receive an extra 200 meticais for a snack on polling day.
Langa advised voters to pay no attention to those opposition politicians who are telling them to stay at the polling stations after they have cast their ballots, in order “to control the vote”. He pointed out that it is illegal for voters to stay at the polling stations after they have voted.
The political parties can “control the vote” not only through the MMVs they appoint, but also through monitors. Each competing party or presidential candidate can appoint two monitors for each polling station.
But Renamo and the MDM have been unable to meet their quota. The names of all the monitors should have been submitted 20 days before polling day – STAE was “flexible”, Langa said, and extended the deadline, but the parties still could not submit enough names to cover all the polling stations.
Langa also stressed that the publication of opinion polls during election campaigns is illegal. A fake poll showing a massive Frelimo victory was published by a prolific Frelimo supporter named Egidio Vaz on his Facebook page on Wednesday. He subsequently took it down – but the crime had already been committed.
An investigation by the “Mozambique Political Process Bulletin”, published by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), found that the fake poll is not Mozambican at all, but was fabricated by the Russian International Anticrisis Centre (IAC).
Vaz, and anyone else who published this poll, could be tried and sentenced to up a year’s imprisonment, if the Attorney-General’s Office is determined to enforce the election law.
Source: AIM / Miramar
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