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Preliminary Results Indicate Landslide Victory for Mozambique's Guebuza

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Provisional results from last week's elections in Mozambique show President Armando Guebuza and his Frelimo party appear to be heading for a landslide victory. With nearly 90 percent of the ballots counted, Mr. Guebuza has won more than 70 percent of the popular vote.

Mozambican election officials underscored that the results were preliminary, based on vote counting at polling places, and they would not be official until certified.

Nevertheless, they acknowledged that President Armando Guebuza's lead of more than two million votes over either of the other two candidates was unassailable and he would likely be returned for a second, five-year term.

The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, appeared set to take more than 190 of the 250 seats in the national assembly.

Veteran opposition-leader Afonso Dhlakama of the Renamo Party was running second in the presidential race with 15 percent of the vote. And the head of a new party, Daviz Simango of the Mozambican Democratic Movement, was third with nine percent.

An analyst with the Mozambican News Agency, Paul Faubet says Mr. Guebuza and Frelimo ran successfully on their record.

"Frelimo and President Guebuza say this is what we have done in the past and we shall continue to do it. We have been successful in reducing poverty and we shall continue to reduce poverty," said Faubet.

He says the party, which has governed since independence 34 years ago, also expanded public and education networks and improved infrastructure.

Analysts say part of Frelimo's success was due to a split in the opposition.

Simango, the mayor of Beira, formed the MDM after being expelled from Renamo. He ran for re-election as an independent last year and won.

The 45-year-old politician appealed to young voters by saying it is time for the next generation to govern.

Observers from southern Africa, the African Union and Europe said the balloting was orderly with only a few technical problems.

But they criticized the Electoral Commission for disqualifying some opposition candidates because of what were termed complex technical requirements.

The Commission allowed the MDM to field candidates in only four of the provincial assembly races because of incomplete documentation.

The head of the European Union monitors, Fiona Hall, said her group would also be closely watching the rest of the tabulation.

"It is especially important the next stage of the process, when the results of the individual polling stations are aggregated at the district level," said Hall.

The votes must be certified at the national level and any rejected ballots reviewed before the official results are announced, in the next 10 days.