Joseph Hanlon: It was the worst election ever in Mozambique
20.10.2019 - Maputo / British researcher Joseph Hanlon says that there were many irregularities in the Mozambique 2019 elections, and that a concerted attempt to render the work of civil society and the opposition impossible has become clear.
International observers however say that the process in general was orderly and peaceful.
In an interview with DW Africa, British researcher Joseph Hanlon, head of the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) newsletter about the political process in Mozambique, said "these were by far the worst” multi-party elections in the country.
According to Hanlon, there was fraud, along with many other irregularities. But the clearest was the attempt to frustrate the work of civil society and opposition, he told DW in Maputo.
"We had 3,000 independent civil society observers who were unable to get credentials to observe the elections. We had thousands of Frelimo-aligned group observers that no one had ever heard of, and they got credentials,” he said.
Joseph Hanlon also reports that observers at some polling stations "were forced to remain standing, and at others they were expelled because they allegedly had the wrong stamp on their credentials. Political party agents were also prevented from entering polling stations.”
The investigator criticises incidences of violence, explains them as being the result of pressure on the opposition parties. "They were prevented from speaking, and there were delays in funding. The game was so unbalanced that it made it almost impossible for the opposition parties and civil society to monitor these elections,” he said.
Frelimo’s the likely victory
In Mozambique, the parallel counting of votes by election monitoring platforms indicates a victory to Frelimo victory, the announcement of which is likely to contrast with the increasing number of illegalities and instances of violence coming to light every day.
According to the CIP, it appears that the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo), the ruling party, won the qualified majority elections (two thirds of the votes) and its presidential candidate, Filipe Nyusi, won about 70% of the votes.
Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) candidate Ossufo Momade won 21% of the vote and Daviz Simango, a candidate from the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM), was chosen by 7% of the electorate. Mario Albino, of the Party for Movement Action for Integral Salvation (AMUSI) got less than 1%.
This resounding apparent victory contrasts with the increasing number of illegalities and instances of violence coming to light every day, a paradox which goes generally unnoticed and leads British researcher Joseph Hanlon to ask: "What results would we have without these problems? I have no idea. Frelimo wins by a very large margin, and it would probably win anyway. But the environment created was extremely unfair.”
The only novelty so far, and by the way, is the intensification of electoral illegalities, violence, repression, intimidation and exclusion. Preliminary assessments by electoral observation missions do not differ much from evaluations of previous electoral processes. Recommendations are always the hard to follow, and Hanlon says that, here, the law "is only for the Englishman to see”.
Hanlon say the European Union advises to "follow legal procedures”, but "what we know from the [last] local elections is that these legal procedures do not work in elections in Mozambique.”
CNE not responsible for electoral offences
The chairperson of the National Election Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, says that the new electoral law removes the responsibility for electoral offences from the CNE, adding that allegedly damaged parties may refer case to the courts spread throughout the districts.
As for the other recommendations made by the observation missions, Carimo says: "Let’s evaluate and look at what needs to be improved.” "With each process we are getting better, and when it comes to electoral law, we think it should be referred to Parliament.”
The CNE is not publishing preliminary results to "avoid wrong interpretations of the vote counting”, Carimo pointing out that not all districts have the same capacity, and that the length of time for the vote count also varies from place to place.
Peaceful elections despite incidents
Nine international election observation missions consider the elections to have been orderly and peaceful, despite some incidents. Observers have called for calm as vote counting takes place, and are encouraging parties to turn to legally established institutions in the event of any challenge.
These are observation missions from the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Forum of Election Commissions of the Region, the European Union (EU),of the European Parliament, the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), the Institute Election for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the Commonwealth and the International Organisation of the Francophonie.
In the opinion of the EU, the vote was well organised, but preceded by a campaign marked by violence, limitations on fundamental freedoms and doubts about the quality of voter registration.
"The absence of national observers in almost half of the polling stations observed (due to difficulties with accreditation) did not contribute to the transparency of the process,” noted EU Election Observation Head Sánchez Amor noted.
Amor added that it was essential that the performance of all players in the process be correct and facilitate a peaceful environment. "I therefore appeal to the electoral administration authorities and the judiciary to ensure a transparent process that takes into account the concerns of all competitors in resolving conflicts,” he said.
Sanchez Amor also appealed to competing political formations to remain calm and resolve any issue by the means stipulated by law.
Implementation of the peace agreement
The head of the European Parliament delegation, José Manuel Garcia-Margallo, endorsed the preliminary conclusions of the European Union mission and underlined the importance of "a transparent and inclusive electoral process, the rejection of violence and a commitment by all parties.”
Garcia-Margallo called on the parties to ensure the continuation and full implementation of the recent peace agreement, stressing that peace "can only exist in a consensual environment where mutual trust, lack of fraud and compromise prevail of all parties.”
The AU observation mission found that the elections were conducted in accordance with the organizsation’s standards, while SADC said the vote was "peaceful and orderly”.
The observation mission of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa criticised the late release of funds by the state to political parties, saying "small parties have been harmed.”
For its part, the CPLP electoral observation mission congratulated the Mozambicans for the "civility and serenity” with which they exercised their voting rights, and highlighted what they described as an excellent work by the electoral authorities, without prejudice to the possibility of improving the process.
A common theme in the preliminary reports of the observation missions is the condemnation of incidents recorded during the electoral process, including the murder of a civil society activist Anastácio Matavel in Gaza, and the requirement for prompt clarification of recorded cases.
Mário Mendão, coordinator of the CPLP observer group, said that the CPLP Observation Mission joined Mozambican civil society "in calling on the judicial authorities to fully clarify responsibility for the serious incidents that occurred during the election campaign period, including episodes of violence.”
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