Mozambique: Tight calendar hits parties as only 18 of 28 present lists - By Joseph Hanlon
Two people believed to be members or supporters of Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, suffered minor injuries during disturbances on Wednesday evening in the municipality of Marromeu, in the central province of Sofala.
According to the spokesperson for the Sofala Provincial Police Command, Daniel Macuacua, the disturbances took place at a polling station in the 25 June primary school, as the votes cast in that day’s municipal elections were being counted.
Macuacua said a group of people rioted at the polling stations and created “a scenario of instability”.
He said they were throwing stones at a vehicles that was carrying meals for the polling station staff (MMVs), and other people on duty at the polling stations (such as police and medical staff). Similar disturbances took place at a second polling centre, located at the 4 October primary school.
“This obliged the police to send reinforcements to the place and to intervene to restore order”, Macuacua added. “The police were obliged to open fire, and during this clash two individuals regarded as ringleaders of the group sustained injuries”.
The group, he said, had disregarded appeals from the electoral bodies and the police that voters should leave the polling stations after casting their ballots, and should wait at home for the announcement of the results. Instead they remained in the vicinity of the polling stations, supposedly to “protect the vote”.
Macuacua also said that one person was caught at one of the polling stations in possession of two ballot papers marked in favour of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). One was a valid vote, since it came from the block of ballot papers in use at that station. But the other must have been smuggled in from somewhere else, as could be seen from its serial number. The man (who was not named) will be prosecuted for this electoral offence.
The Marromeu municipality was won by Renamo in the 2003 municipal elections, but lost again in 2008.
In 2013, when the contest was between the ruling Frelimo Party and the MDM, since Renamo boycotted the elections of that year, serious fraud deprived the MDM of victory. As AIM wrote at the time, a huge number of votes were classified as invalid at the polling stations.
In those days, there were two elections, one for mayor and one for the municipal assembly. In Marromeu, invalid votes accounted for 10.9 per cent of all votes cast for mayor, and 12.6 per cent in the assembly election.
Such extraordinarily high levels of invalid votes only occur when dishonest members of the polling station staff add an ink mark to the ballot paper to make it look as if the voter has tried to vote for more than one candidate. This fraud is well known from previous Mozambican elections and was condemned in the 2009 general elections by the National Elections Commission (CNE) and by the Constitutional Council, but nobody was ever prosecuted.Source: AIM
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