Maputo — The Constitutional Council, Mozambique's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, on Thursday validated and proclaimed the result of the second round of the mayoral by-election in the northern city of Nampula, held on 14 March.
The result proclaimed by the Council chairperson, Hermenegildo Gamito, is exactly the same as that announced by the National Elections Commission (CNE) in late March. The candidate of the main opposition party, the rebel movement Renamo, Paulo Vahanle, took almost 60 per cent of the vote, while the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party, Amisse Cololo, trailed with just over 40 per cent.
The detailed result was as follows:
Paulo Vahanle (Renamo) 55,732 (58.6 per cent) Amisse Cololo (Frelimo) 39,376 (41.4 per cent).
The by-election was precipitated by the murder, on 4 October, of mayor Mahamudo Amurane, a crime for which nobody has yet been arrested.
In the first round of the by-election, on 24 January, there were five candidates, none of whom took the required 50 per cent of the vote. This made a second, run-off round necessary between the two candidates with the most votes.
Amurane was elected mayor in the 2013 municipal elections, on the ticket of the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), but a bitter rift later opened between Amurane and the MDM leadership.
In the by-election, the MDM candidate, Carlos Saide, was among those knocked out in the first round. The MDM then threw its weight behind Vahanle, and urged its supporters to vote for the Renamo candidate on the second round.
Turnout was poor - only 32.7 per cent of Nampula's registered electorate of 296,590 voted. But this was considerably better than the first round when only 24 per cent voted.
This was the most closely observed election in Mozambican history. The Constitutional Council noted that both Frelimo and Renamo appointed all the monitors to which they were entitled - two for each of the 401 polling stations, making a total of 1.604 monitors. There were also 1,235 Mozambican election observers (92 more than in the first round), 32 foreign observers (18 less than in the first round), and 141 journalists (3 more than in the first round). Thus it was possible to observe every polling station throughout the voting and the count.
The Council noted that no acts of violence or intimidation or any other irregularities that might have influenced the result were reported at any of the polling stations.
There were, however, 11 arrests, six for offences concerning election propaganda, and five for voting offences. The Council gave few details of these, just noting that the offences included damaging the election propaganda of the opposing party, campaigning after the close of the campaigning period, falsifying election documents, and causing disturbances at the polling stations.
Two of these cases have come to court. One was dismissed for lack of evidence, and in the second the accused was sentenced to ten months imprisonment. The other cases are awaiting trial.
Vahanle can now be sworn into office as mayor of Nampula. But he only has about six months to carry out his election promises, since there will be nationwide municipal elections, including in Nampula, on 10 October.