21 February 2014

Mozambique: Assembly Accepts Renamo Bill On Voter Registration

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Election posters in the Sofala province town of Gorongosa.

Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Friday unanimously passed amendments to the law on voter registration, proposed by the former rebel movement Renamo.

Unlike the changes demanded by Renamo in the law on the National Elections Commission (CNE), these amendments are not particularly controversial.

The most important is a clause that will allow Renamo to send monitors to watch the voter registration brigades. Under the existing law, all political parties wishing to observe the registration must send the list of their monitors to the district or city elections commission up to 30 days before the start of the registration.

Since voter registration began on 15 February, Renamo should have submitted its lists by 16 January. It did not do so: according to a spokesperson for the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) contacted by AIM, to date no elections commission has received any lists from Renamo.

So Renamo wanted to change this clause to allow the accreditation of monitors to continue right up until the end of the registration period, on 29 April.

A counter-proposal from the Assembly's Commission on Public Administration is that accreditation will close 30 days after the publication of the amendments in the official gazette, the “Boletim da Republica”.

Renamo also wanted the registration brigades to be selected “by a jury consisting of the district or city director and deputy directors of STAE, who shall decide by consensus”. The Commission, however, suggests sticking with the current formulation which is simply that STAE recruits the brigades through the normal public tendering procedures.

This debate is academic, since the brigades have already been recruited, and most of them are on the ground registering voters.

Renamo also wanted to place any disputes over registration in the hands of the district courts, while the Commission suggests retaining the current system whereby registration decisions taken by STAE can be appealed to the district or city elections commissions, and then upwards to the provincial elections commission, the CNE, or eventually even to the Constitutional Council, the highest body in mattes of constitutional and electoral law.

The bill was passed in general, and unanimously, on its first reading, and the disagreements between Renamo and the Commission will be sorted out in the second reading scheduled for Saturday.

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