12 December 2018

Mozambique: CNE Throws Out 1 Marromeu Polling Station But Still Gives Frelimo 46 Vote Victory

The National Elections Commission (CNE), without explanation, changed the Marromeu results to give Frelimo a narrow 46 vote victory. This means a Frelimo mayor but an assembly in which the opposition has a majority.

Without comment, this morning the CNE presented its official results for Marromeu following the rerun of voting in 8 polling stations on 22 November.

The CNE first threw out the notorious polling station 07127-03 which had 800 registered voters of whom 811 voted. And it made other changes to the Marromeu District Elections Commission (CDE) results, but did not explain them. The CNE reduced the number of voters reported by the CDE by only 649 and reduced the Frelimo vote by 748, leaving Frelimo with victory by just 0.25% of the valid vote. (The full table is in the attached pdf). The results mean 8 municipal assembly seats each for Frelimo and Renamo and 1 for MDM,

The CNE meeting in Maputo took two days on Monday and Tuesday and in the end the results were only approved and then presented by CNE members named by Frelimo or Frelimo-linked civil society groups. Renamo in its objection said that CNE President Abdul Carimo proposed a recount of the votes at the 8 polling station, but the Frelimo-aligned majority refused the recount. Renamo and MDM nominated and aligned members then walked out of the meeting.

Observers present in the 8 polling stations said the turnout was 47% and gave Renamo 75% of the vote. The CDE said the turnout was an incredible 87% and that Frelimo had 75% of the vote. Observers and Renamo say they CDE results were clearly false. Although it did not release details, it appears that for the 8 polling stations the CNE result cut the turnout to 76% and the Frelimo share of the valid vote to 68% (both still much higher than the observer count).

The CNE said the election was "free, fair and transparent" even though its understanding of transparency included its refusal to explain how it changed the CDE results and its refusal to do a recount. "The CNE welcomes the positive form of the voting process", it said.

Fernando Mazanga, a Renamo member of the CNE, this morning presented the opposition position rejecting the CNE decision. The three CNE documents and the Renamo objection (all in Portuguese) are posted on http://bit.ly/Marr-CNE-R

Full tables showing observer, STAE and CDE results, with huge differences, are in our previous bulletin on bit.ly/LocEl80

Opposition denounces forged results

The 7 CNE members nominated by MDM, Renamo and opposition-aligned civil society in a statement distributed this morning denounced the CNE approval of "falsified data" from Marromeu. They also protested the CNE's failure to order a recount - which they said was essential because of "irreconcilable differences" between the results at the polling stations and the results approved by CNE.

The seven CNE members also said that the very high turnout reported was above the number of ballot papers actually used on polling day. There was no proper count in the polling stations, which should have been done by the polling station staff.

In 2013 when the Constitutional Council forced a similar rerun in Gurue, CNE and national STAE officials took charge. But the opposition CNE members note that "strangely, neither the CNE nor the Sofala provincial elections commission supervised the electoral process in Marromeu."

Marromeu shows 'contempt' for Constitutional Council says Catholic Justice & Peace Commission

The conduct of the Marromeu rerun "showed clear contempt for the decision of the Constitutional Council to return elections to a fair and transparent shape," according to a statement from the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, written by Pemba Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa.

"Contrary to our expectations, the repetition of the voting in Marromeu on 22 November did not restore credibility to the electoral process, but instead had worse arbitrariness including the failure to produce results sheets in the polling stations and the forging of results sheets without the presence of Renamo and MDM," the Bishop continued.

The statement cites information from this Bulletin.

Observers say Marromeu vote 'not free, fair or transparent'

"The elections in Marromeu were not free or transparent, and definitely not fair, because of innumerable irregularities" concluded observers from the Nampula-based Solidariedade Mocambique and other observer groups. Police played a negative role and the electoral administration had a party bias, they concluded.

Observation was disrupted at various times during polling day. Initially observers were not allowed inside polling stations. This was resolved, but later in the day police removed two observers from a polling station a Samora Machel primary school. At 25 June primary school, an STV cameraman was attacked by the police in an attempt to stop him filming an interview. In the afternoon the STAE district director attempted to take smartphones away from observers and journalists, saying they were not permitted. Solidariedade complained that the director threatened to arrest observers.

Organised obstruction in Marromeu count

By law, the count starts immediate after voting ends at 18h00. But at 25 June primary school polling station staff said they had been told to go out to dinner. Others said they could not start the count because they did not have chalk to write results on the blackboard. The count finally started three hours late.

The CNE in its declaration of results (signed only by Frelimo members) issued this morning said that counting began "immediately after the end of voting", which is manifestly false. AIM, the government news agency, today called the statement a "grotesque falsehood". It notes that "anyone who watched the television coverage on the night of 22 November knew this was not true. The cameras showed that the polling stations were deserted at 20.00." The count only began after 20.30, after journalists had phoned the Maputo headquarters of STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat) to ask what was going on.

Five of the 8 polling stations did not post results sheets as required by law, apparently "on higher orders", reported the Beira-based Pressao Nacional Dos Direitos Humanos (PNDH, National Pressure for Human Rights)

In several polling stations the head of the polling station began to write the results sheets before the count was complete. Opposition members of the polling station and party delegates were not allowed to see or sign the results sheet. PNDH comments: "the intervention of the police was not to maintain order, but to protect the heads of the polling stations from the fury of the party delegates." Observers reported that in several polling stations the police and STAE officials took away the polling station head, ballot papers, and results sheets without any results being announced. But the count had been completed and observers recorded the final numbers.

District court confirms impossible for Renamo to protest

The Marromeu district count rejected Renamo's complaint against the Marromeu results, again confirming the impossibility of protest. Renamo was complaining that the count was not completed in polling stations and that no results sheets were issued. The district count rejected the claim on the grounds that no results sheets were included with the protect - even though the complaint was that no results sheets were issued. The court also said that the complaint was not made at the polling stations - even though the complaint was that the heads of the polling stations left with the ballot papers before the tally was finished and thus were unavailable to complain to.

New mayors take office in February

Parliament has responded to Constitutional Council (CC) criticism of contradictory electoral laws by deciding that the new municipal administrations will take office in February. The CC pointed out that one law says the newly elected assembly and mayor take office 15 days after validation of the elections (by 29 November) and the other says they only take office at the end of the previous incumbents' terms (after 6 February 2019).

Parliament on 27 November opted for the second, and changed both laws to say that the new mayor and assembly take office within 7 days of the end of the previous term (in this case, 7 days after 6 February).

But parliament said nothing about the CC's call for a new election code, to pull all laws into a single package eliminating contradictory ad hoc changes and confusion. The CC first called for a single electoral code after the 2009 elections to avoid problems like the contradictory dates. But donors withheld aid for three months to successfully force the government to ignore the CC and continue with multiple and confusing electoral laws.

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