25 January 2018

Mozambique: Initial Results Point to 2nd Round And Low Turnout

Initial results point to a second round between Renamo candidate Paulo Vahanle and Frelimo candidate Amisse Cololo, in the by-election yesterday for mayor of Nampula. Turnout was very low, probably similar to the 26% of the 2013 election in which Mahamudo Amurane of MDM was elected.

At midnight a parallel count of 75% of the 401 polling stations showed Frelimo with approximately 45%, Renamo 40%, MDM 10%, and the two independent candidates sharing the remaining 5%. To be elected a candidate needs 50% of the vote, and if that does not happen there is a second round between the two candidates with the most votes.

Smooth count

Polling stations closed on time at 18.00. Counting was largely finished by 22.00 and passed without incident.

Polling stations are mainly in schools and the distrust of electoral authorities was such that at some schools there were crowds of people wanting to watch the count. Counts are open to observers, journalists and party delegates with credentials but not the public; police dispersed the crowds without incident or force.

In Ghana, which has better run elections but uses a similar system, arrangements are made for the public to be able to watch the count in the polling station.

Lighting problems

Many polling stations did not have electricity and during the count "there were serious lighting problems with many polling stations forced to use alternatives because the lights supplied by STAE were too weak. In some places polling station staff had to use their own mobile telephones for lighting," reported the Votar Moçambique consortium (of which this newsletter is part).

Votar Moçambique made two excellent observation reports yesterday. The report on the close of voting and the count (in Portuguese) is on http://bit.ly/2n8jYLv

On-going voters register problems

"The problems linked to register books continued until the end of voting, confirming the fears that were being presented by the political parties throughout the preparatory phase," said Votar Moçambique. "Register problems had a major impact on abstention, because many people could not vote because their names were not in the register books."

"Problem continued with voters protesting that their names were missing from the register. There was also cases were voters discovered that someone had already voted using their name," Votar Moçambique continued.

Despite the on-going problems, the head of the Nampula provincial STAE told /O Pais/ today that "everything went well."

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