Maputo — The deadline for the registration of parties, coalitions and citizen's groups wishing to take part in Mozambique's municipal elections, scheduled for 20 November, passed on Tuesday, with no sign of any change of heart from the country's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.
Renamo has insisted that without sweeping changes in the electoral legislation it will boycott the elections. By the end of the registration period, 19 parties, coalitions and groups had registered - but Renamo was not among them.
This means that the elections will essentially be a content between the ruling Frelimo Party and the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which are the only parties promising to stand in all 53 municipalities.
Currently, there are MDM mayors in two municipalities, Beira and Quelimane, and Frelimo mayors in 41. The other ten towns were only upgraded to municipal status this year, and so have not yet held any elections.
The Renamo membership was not consulted about the boycott. In particular, Renamo members of the municipal assemblies were not told they would have no chance to stand again this year. Some of them will be strongly tempted to defect to the MDM in order to keep their seats.
In addition to Frelimo and the MDM, the following 12 parties and coalitions have registered:
1. PDD (Party for Peace, Democracy and Development). Founded by Raul Domingos, once the number two in Renamo, who was expelled from that party in 2000, the PDD holds one seat in the Beira Municipal Assembly.
2. PIMO (Independent Party of Mozambique).
This is a disguised Islamic party. It too holds one seat in the Beira Assembly.
3. PAHUMO (Mozambique Humanist Party). Based in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, this party was recently founded by former Renamo parliamentary deputy, Cornelio Quivela.
4. PT (Labour Party). Despite its name, it has no ties with the Mozambican trade union movement.
5. PEC-MT (Ecologist Party - Land Movement)
6. PARENA (National Renovation Party)
7. PANAMO (Mozambique National Party)
8. Os Verdes (The Greens)
9. PPLM (Popular Liberal Party of Mozambique)
10. ALIMO (Independent Alliance of Mozambique)
11. MPD (Patriotic Movement for Democracy)
12. A coalition between the MPD and the Ecologist Party (not to be confused with PEC-MT).
In addition, five citizens groups have registered. The most well established of these is Juntos Pela Cidade (JPC, Together for the City), one of whose founding members was the country's foremost investigative journalist, the late Carlos Cardoso. JPC has held seats in the Maputo Municipal Assembly ever since the first municipal elections in 1998.
The other groups are SINFOTECNICA (also Maputo), ASTROGAZA (Xai-Xai), ANATURMA (Manhica) and ASSIMUNA (Nampula).
Several of the minor parties have stood in general elections, and have never won as much as one per cent of the vote. It is not yet known how many municipalities each of these parties intends to contest.
Registering the parties, coalitions and groups is just the first step. Now each of the contesting forces must submit the nomination papers for all its candidates for mayor and for the municipal assemblies.
The period for depositing nomination papers with the National Elections Commission (CNE) began on Wednesday, and will end on 6 September.