Mozambique: Observers Denied Credentials in Nampula

Maputo — The "Sala da Paz" (Peace Room), a coalition of Mozambican election observation bodies, reported on Tuesday that the Nampula Provincial Elections Commission (CPE) is refusing to issue credentials for observers.

The CPE's excuse is that the machine it uses to produce credentials has broken down. "Sala da Paz" says it has been attempting to secure credentials for 300 observers in Nampula since August, but without any satisfactory response.

According to one would-be observer, cited by "Sala da Paz", the CPE "said it wasn't true that they were refusing to issue credentials, but that the machine used for this had suffered a breakdown".

This has serious effects, preventing observers from doing their job properly. One observer still waiting for his credential was prevented from photographing a Frelimo motorcade on Monday. When he took photos, a participant in the motorcade demanded to see his credential, and since he did not have one, ordered him to delete the images from his camera.

The behaviour of the Frelimo supporter was entirely illegal, since any citizen, and not merely election observers, is entitled to take photos in public places. The legitimate purpose of credentials is to allow observers to enter such events as press conferences given by the electoral management bodies, and to enter polling stations on voting day.

Observer credentials should have nothing to do with filming or photographing in public places.

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