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Mozambique Prepares for Elections

Mozambique will be holding elections next week for the fourth time since the end of its civil war in 1994.

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VOA Southern Africa Correspondent Scott Bobb has been following the run-up to next Wednesday’s vote. VOA's Cecily Hilleary asked him who is running and what is at stake.

Hilleary: So, who are the chief contenders and what are their platforms?

Bobb: The incumbent, Armando Guebuzo of FRELIMO (The Liberation Front of Mozambique), is running for a second term. He is being opposed by Alfonso Dhlakama of the RENAMO Opposition Party [Mozambican National Resistance], who has run four times for president and lost by wide margins every time.

This year, there’s a third party that’s made some inroads, and that is the Mozambican Democratic Movement, headed by Daviz Simango, the mayor of the second city, Beira. He actually broke away from RENAMO to form this party, and so really, FRELIMO is heavily favored, and what a lot of people are watching for is to see who comes in second.

Hilleary: Are analysts predicting any surprises?

Bobb: At the provincial level, the opposition there could take some provincial assemblies, and this time around the provincial assemblies are to choose the governors of the provinces, whereas before they were appointed. This could also bring some changes at the local level.

The government is campaigning on continuity and greater delivery of its programs and the opposition, of course,is campaigning for change.

Hilleary: Then it’s not much of a horse race, is it? Well, that’s what it looks like at the moment. People are watching to see how well the opposition parties do and how well they do against each other because Daviz Simango is a young new face and has attracted a lot of attention. He’s done well in Beira and is popular because of that. So we’ll see. In terms of continuity, this does not look like an election that will bring a great deal of change, at least at the top level of political leadership.

Hilleary: The Southern African Development Community [SADC] is calling for peaceful elections and sending observers. How is it looking—are tensions high?

Bobb: There has been some sporadic, intermittent violence associated with the campaign, but certainly not overwhelming. There’s also some speculation that there’s some voter apathy, because this is a sort of [easy victory] for the FRELIMO Party, which has dominated politics since winning the civil war that followed independence. There have also been charges of rigging and irregularities. Some of these have been dealt with and some have not, to the satisfaction, at least, of the opposition. So I expect there will be some controversy over some of the results. But overall, there doesn’t seem to be an atmosphere of violence widespread.