Maputo — For the first time, Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has won control of a municipality in the northern province of Niassa.
The town that fell to Renamo is Cuamba, sometimes regarded as the commercial capital of Niassa, which lies on the railway from Malawi to the port of Nacala.
The full result, announced on Friday by the Cuamba district elections commission, showed a very comfortable victory for Renamo, which beat the ruling Frelimo party by almost 14 per cent. The second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), came third, with 6.5 per cent of the vote.
The full results for the Niassa provincial capital, Lichinga, have also been published, showing a Frelimo victory over Renamo of almost seven per cent.
In the neighbouring province of Cabo Delgado, Frelimo won comfortably in the provincial capital, Pemba, beating Renamo by over 15 per cent. Here the MDM picked up rather more than six per cent of the vote.
In Mocimboa da Praia, Frelimo won by a margin of about eight per cent. Mocimboa da Praia district has been the centre of a low-level insurgency by Islamic fundamentalists, but there is no sign that the islamists tried to disrupt the elections.
Renamo boycotted the previous local elections, in 2013, and so all the opposition vote was concentrated in the MDM. In 2013, Frelimo won crushing victories in all four of these municipalities - with 66 per cent of the vote in Lichinga, 80 per cent in Cuamba, 74 per cent in Pemba and 86 per cent in Mocimboa da Praia.
The results announced on Friday for these four municipalities are as follows:
Frelimo: 28,668 (51.93 per cent)
Renamo: 24,949 (45.19 per cent)
MDM: 1,591 (2.88 per cent)
Renamo: 12,952 (53.3 per cent)
Frelimo: 9,586 (39.45 per cent)
MDM: 1,584 (6.52 per cent)
Frelimo: 30,880 (54.21 per cent)
Renamo: 21,860 (39.01 per cent)
MDM: 3,442 (6.14 per cent)
Mocimboa da Praia
Frelimo: 13,641 (51.71 per cent)
Renamo: 11,577 (43.89 per cent)
MDM: 1,162 (4.4 per cent)