Dhlakama threatens to break off talks with government

Maputo (AIM) – The leader of Mozambique’s rebel movement Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, has threatened to end Renamo’s negotiations with the government because of alleged fraud committed by the ruling Frelimo Party in Wednesday’s second round of the mayoral by-election in the northern city of Nampula.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama

Interviewed by phone by the independent television station STV, Dhlakama claimed that Frelimo is bussing in supporters from all over the country to vote in Nampula.  He said these fake voters came, not only from other districts in Nampula province, but from as far afield as Niassa province in the far north and from Maputo in the far south (the journey from Maputo to Nampula is 1,400 kilometres long).

Dhlakama said this supposed fraud undermined the talks between the government and Renamo. He threatened to end the talks, renege on agreements already reached (referring to the constitutional amendments on decentralisation) and “go back to square one”.

He said he had once believed that President Filipe Nyusi was better than his predecessors, Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza, but now Nyusi had disappointed him. He menaced that, if something was not done to stop the alleged Nampula fraud, he would organise “a revolution of the entire people” to remove Frelimo from power.

But nobody else has seen busloads of phoney voters arriving from Nampula from all over the country.

At about 13.30 AIM spoke to an election observer in Nampula with long experience of Mozambican elections who said that so far only one person not entitled to vote had tried to do so. This was a woman with a voter card issued in the port city of Nacala.

When she tried to vote at a Nampula polling station, not only did the staff refuse to give her a ballot paper, but she was turned over to the police who arrested her.

At another polling station a minibus full of people arrived. Although this aroused suspicions, it turned out that they all had valid Nampula voter cards and were all properly registered as Nampula voters. They were therefore allowed to vote.

Furthermore, Renamo is present at all the 401 polling stations, and so can prevent any attempt at fraud. Just as in the first round, Renamo has two monitors for each station. Even more important, Renamo is directly represented on the polling station staff – at each station there are seven staff, and the political parties (Renamo, Frelimo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM) each appoint a member. So in all Renamo has over 1,200 people at the Nampula polling stations.

So far, none of them seem to have made any protests. The director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), Felisberto Naife, told AIM that he has received no complaints from any Nampula polling station about people being bussed in from outside the municipality to vote.

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