Photograph — Financial Times

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi was on Sunday declared the winner of Mozambique’s election in what observers described as a “predictable” landslide victory.

The leader, a candidate of the ruling Frelimo party, won the presidential elections with an overwhelming 73 percent of the votes. He was followed by Renamo’s Ossufo Mamade with 21.8 percent. The re-election gives 60-year-old Nyusi a second term of another five years in office.

Along with the presidential victory, Frelimo also won the legislative and provincial elections, Chairman of the National Election Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, said at a press conference.

The results mean Frelimo, which has ruled since independence from Portugal in 1975, will have 184 Members of Parliament in the next legislature. Renamo gets 60, leaving Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) with 6 MPs.

Fraud claims

The landslide victory was largely expected even though Frelimo’s popularity was recently affected by a financial crisis connected to alleged state corruption. But as is become a trend in African elections, Mozambique’s opposition parties have contested the results saying there were electoral irregularities in favor of the ruling party.

A day after results were announced by the CNE, Renamo issued a directive to reaffirm its executive decision rejecting the vote results which the party termed as ”fraudulent”.

“Neither accepting nor acknowledging the results of the polls held on October 15 and by consequence demanding the replacement of the electoral truth denied to the Mozambican people in virtue of the serious irregularities that stained all the process,” it said in a statement.

The country’s third political force, MDM also said it will not accept the results saying the elections were “fraudulent and the most violent in the country’s history.” The party’s General Secretary, José Domingos, said MDM “does not accept the results that have been published as they do not reflect the will of Mozambicans.”

While the opposition’s move to reject the results may be considered politically-motivated and therefore the validity of their claims doubtful, the allegations were similar to that of civil society organizations.

Public Integrity Centre (CIP), a Mozambican NGO that observed elections said on its website that the CNE “continues not to have the real possibility of accomplishing its obligations, (and) is not able of safeguarding a fair electoral process where the results are accepted by everyone.”

It is unclear however if any of the opposing parties will proceed to challenge the results in court.

Preventing post-election disputes

With several leaders sometimes remaining in power for decades, rival candidates frequently contest the results of democratic elections in Africa, Remi Carlier wrote in France 24. Sometimes the disputes are settled peacefully while at other times, post-election violence can dwell for months, causing long-term instability.

Preventing such disputes requires that Africa’s democratic societies improve electoral procedures, making them devoid of violence, malpractices, and other irregularities. As highlighted in an article on the United Nations’ Africa Renewal, certain factors have to be in place for African nations to produce credible elections.

Some of the best practices identified include the establishment of a truly independent electoral commission, impartial assessment of the electoral process by non-partisan election observers as well as balanced coverage of all candidates and parties by the media. On their part, incumbent leaders have to set a tone of tolerance and respect for the election process.

In addition, civil society groups should be active in issues like voter education and the promotion of election dialogue and initiatives to defuse conflicts; the neutrality of security personnel throughout the electoral process; and willingness by competing political parties and to conduct themselves peacefully and fairly.

The presence of most or all of these factors can help set the stage for elections that are inclusive, transparent and accountable to citizens. Where these standards are met, the public – and opposition groups – will likely have a significant level of confidence in the election process and results.

Mozambique’s October 15 vote was the sixth presidential and parliamentary elections since 1994, featuring 26 parties. Some 13 million of Mozambique’s 30 million citizens were registered to vote at over 20,000 polling stations while the vote verification process was carried out on Friday.

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