/ 17 November 2009

Mozambique opposition party demands fresh election

Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, on Tuesday rejected the election victory of President Armando Guebuza, saying a fresh poll must be held because last month’s vote was rigged.

Renamo spokesperson Ivone Soares said her party would also boycott parliamentary sessions unless it received a ”satisfactory explanation” from election authorities in response to its demands.

Guebuza, seen as welcoming greater foreign investment, beat long-time opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama and the head of a new party, Daviz Simango, to capture 75,46% of the presidential vote.

Soares said Renamo had appealed to the National Elections Commission (CNE) which would then pass on the appeal to the constitutional council, also known as the appeals board.

”We want a new election and those people who committed electoral offences must be severely punished,” she told Reuters.

Soares said Renamo had collected evidence of ”massive” stuffing of ballot boxes to ensure victory for Guebuza and the ruling party, Frelimo.

Renamo’s election agents were expelled from some polling stations, she said.

”Renamo will not participate in any political activity deriving from this process, that is we will not take our seats in parliament if we do not get a satisfactory answer from the constitutional council.”

Frelimo spokesperson Edson Macuacua denied the Renamo accusations.

”Renamo’s complaints are absurd. They were present in all polling stations [and] they had … polling staff who did not submit a single complaint during voting and afterwards,” Macuacua said.

Frelimo, in power since it led the country to independence from Portugal in 1975, won 191 parliamentary seats out of 250.

Guebuza, a millionaire businessman, is under pressure to provide poor Mozambicans with the benefits of tourism and untapped mineral and energy resources that have started to draw foreign investors, particularly from neighbouring South Africa.

He also faces the challenge of accommodating a new generation that was not born in the liberation struggle nor the 16-year civil war against Renamo. — Reuters