Mozambique’s local elections to test peace progress

The 13-day election campaign ended on Sunday after outbreaks of violence between rival party supporters.

Police said 26 people had been arrested in the campaign, almost all of them reportedly supporters of Renamo.

Ahead of the vote, a police officer, who is also a local Frelimo leader, allegedly shot a rival Renamo supporter in Tete province ahead of the vote. Nobody has been arrested.

Renamo supporters say they have faced intimidation and assaults during the campaign, raising tensions ahead of the ballot. “Our members and sympathisers are asking for the party’s leadership (to) intervene in their defence since the police do nothing,” Renamo’s acting leader Ossufo Momade said last week.

Domingos do Rosario, a politics professor at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, warned that the party felt under attack and could well retaliate: “Renamo thinks it is being persecuted and may act accordingly to defend itself.” 

On Wednesday, the vote will be held in Mozambique’s 53 municipalities, 49 of which are currently governed by Frelimo.

The four other municipalities – among them the cities of Beira, Nampula and Quelimane – were won by the second opposition party MDM party in the last elections.

“All the apparatus of the state will have been put into action to make sure the elections are won by Frelimo. If that happens, the level of violence will increase,” Do Rosario said.

But he predicted that the peace process would stay on track ahead of the 2019 general election.

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