Maputo — Beira (Mozambique), 10 Oct (AIM) - At several polling stations visited by AIM in the central city of Beira on Wednesday morning, police officers were at the door of the stations allegedly to organise the queues.
At the Macurungo Primary School, for example, scuffles in the queues were used to justify the police presence. One woman told AIM "When this polling station opened, there was confusion. People were jumping the queues, so the police agents came closer and stayed to organise the queue".
But even when the scuffles were over, and order was restored, the police office remained at the polling station door.
AIM found exactly the same thing at another primary school, although in the suburb of Nhangau, the police were keeping their distance from the polling stations.
Organising the queues is the job, not of the police, but of the polling station staff (MMVs). In Nhangau, the police allowed the MMVs to do their job, but at other places they clearly usurped the authority of the MMVs.
The law allows one policeman to be present at each polling station. Other police must stay at least 300 metres from the polling stations. The police presence is supposed to be discreet and not intimidatory.
At a large polling centre in Maputo observed by AIM not a single policeman was in sight, and the queues were handled competently by the MMVs.
AIM's tour of Beira polling stations showed that some opened very late. At the Nhamizua Primary School, one polling station only opened its doors to voters at 10.00, three hours late. The same three hour delay occurred, without any explanation, at a station n the Aeroporto Primary School.
In one queue, AIM found a man who was told he could not vote, because he had supposedly already voted. The MMVs at this station "consulted my name and they said I had already voted".
He adamantly denied that he had already voted.