CNE confirms government-RENAMO agreement

The spokesperson for Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE), Joao Beirao, on Thursday confirmed that the postponement of this year’s voter registration exercise arises directly from an agreement reached in the dialogue between the government and the country’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.

Beirao told a Maputo press conference that the government contacted the CNE on Wednesday informing it that, under the agreement reached, Renamo wished to participate in the general elections scheduled for 15 October. So the government asked the CNE whether the period for voter registration, originally scheduled for 30 January to 14 April, could be altered to accommodate Renamo.

The CNE agreed to change the dates, and proposed that the registration begin on 15 February and end on 29 April. The government immediately agreed, held an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), and published a decree fixing the voter registration for these dates.

The delay was necessary, Beirao said, to give Renamo time to appoint monitors to inspect the registration.

Under the law on voter registration, political parties are entitled to appoint monitors to check that the registration is being done in accordance with the law. The names of the monitors should be submitted to the district or city elections commissions at least 30 days prior to the start of registration. So even with the fortnight’s postponement, Renamo has missed that deadline.

Beirao believed that Renamo will also now occupy its two seats on the CNE. Because Renamo disagrees with the composition of the CNE, Renamo boycotted the Commission throughout last year and did not appoint the two members to which it was entitled.

“Ever since the CNE began operating last year, we have been hopeful that Renamo will appoint its members”, said Beirao.

Asked what Renamo had promised in exchange for the postponement of the registration, Beirao said he did not know, since he had no details of the agreement reached between the government and Renamo.

“Only the government can answer that question”, he said. “We just manage the elections. We don’t know the terms of the agreement”.

Beirao admitted that postponing the voter registration will have knock-on effects on other phases of election preparations, such as the deadlines for submitting candidates’ nomination papers. But he insisted it would not change the election date of 15 October.

Delays in voter registration will also have financial costs, notably because the registration brigades will be working a fortnight longer than originally planned and must be paid for that. Beira said the CNE has not yet calculated the extra costs.

On the positive side, the CNE now has an additional fortnight for voter education, to persuade citizens of the need to register as voters.

As for the repeat election in the central municipality of Gurue, scheduled for 8 February, Beirao said the CNE has a team in Gurue and the preparations are going smoothly.

The first elections for the mayor and municipal assembly of Gurue, on 20 November, were annulled by the Constitutional Council, the highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, because of multiple serious irregularities committed by electoral staff.

For the re-run, the CNE’s executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), has been recruiting new polling station staff. Beirao could not promise that none of those who had worked at the 49 Gurue polling stations on 20 November would be allowed to work this time – but he said that all those suspected of involvement in the irregularities would be excluded.

Post published in: Africa News

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