Maputo — The Mozambican government on Tuesday issued a decree extending voter registration by a further 10 days.
Registration was to have ended on Tuesday, but will now continue until 9 May. The Council of Ministers (Cabinet) took the decision, after a proposal submitted by the National Election Commission (CNE) which, according to CNE spokesperson Paulo Cuinica, contained “several scenarios”.
The former rebel movement Renamo had submitted a request to the CNE for an extension a week ago, on the grounds that, unless the period was extended, large number of potential voters in the most populous provinces (Zambezia and Nampula), would not be registered and so would be unable to vote in the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October.
Explaining the extension to reporters, the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Nkutumula, said that registration had been hampered by political, climatic and logistical factors.
Thus in February and March heavy rains and flooding had delayed the opening of some of the 4,078 registration posts, and the registration brigades had also experienced continued breakdowns in their computers and printers, and difficulties with their power supplies
But in the district of Gorongosa, in the central province of Sofala the difficulties have been military. Eight registration brigades which ought to have deployed to posts in rural areas in the north of the district are still in Gorongosa town because of continued clashes between government forces and Renamo gunmen.
Last week, the CNE believed it had guarantees from both sides of the physical safety of the brigade members. But Renamo is now accusing the government of reneging on an agreement that the brigades would not be accompanied by members of the police.
To compensate for the delays, “the CNE has proposed to the government a ten day extension to the registration period”, said Nkutumula, citing some districts in Sofala, Tete and Zambezia provinces, where registration figures were below what would have been desirable.
He added that, during the additional ten days, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) should step up voter education, persuading more people to go to the registration posts, and increase the number of resources (both human and material) available in the critical provinces.
Nkutumula said that, according to the latest figures from STAE, 9,917,563 voters have been registered. This is 81.3 per cent of the estimated potential electorate of 12,203,727.