News / Africa

Mozambican President Guebuza to be Sworn-In for Second Term

Opposition Renamo Party alleges election fraud and boycotts new parliament

Scott Bobb

Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza is to be sworn in Thursday for a second five-year term, but the opposition Renamo Party is alleging election fraud and boycotting the new parliament.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza begins his second term under a cloud of controversy over his landslide victory in last October's elections.

The opposition Renamo Party says the vote was marked by massive fraud.  And 35 of Renamo's 51 members in the newly elected parliament boycotted Tuesday's inaugural session.

In his speech to the legislators, Mr. Guebuza pledged to work with them and called for improvements in the country's electoral laws.

Election observer groups have criticized Mozambique's electoral commission, noting its independence could be called into question because its members were appointed by the political parties.

The assembly elected its first woman speaker, Veronica Macamo of the ruling Frelimo Party, who is now the next in line for the presidency should it become vacant.

The head of the National Electoral Commission, Leopoldo da Costa, announced Mr. Guebuza's victory in November, saying official results showed he had received more than 75 percent of the votes.

The Renamo candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, received 16 percent, while the leader of a new party, Daviz Simango of the Mozambique Democratic Movement, received eight percent of the vote.

Frelimo won 191 of the 250 seats in parliament, giving it a two-thirds majority.

But Renamo Secretary-General Ussufo Momade quickly rejected the results, saying there had been widespread fraud.

He says the party does not recognize the elections and is demanding the results be canceled and a new vote held.
 
Renamo said there was widespread ballot-stuffing in some districts and that its observers had been expelled from others.

An observation consortium of religious and civic groups conducted a parallel tabulation of the vote and said there were indications of irregularities in six percent of the voting stations.

The group estimated fraud might have affected the outcome in one of the contests for the parliament and several of those for the provincial assemblies.  But it concluded that the irregularities were not widespread enough to affect the overall outcome.

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