Mozambique: Police Favour Frelimo in Election Campaign

President Filipe Nyusi (file photo).

Since the beginning of the election campaign our correspondents across the country have reported cases of lack of impartiality, overzealousness and inaction by police officers, always favouring Frelimo.

In Gurue, Zambezia, a Renamo supporter was brutally beaten by two police officers on his way back from campaign activities, allegedly for not carrying his ID card on the afternoon of September 14. Walking without an ID card is not a crime.

In Balama district, Cabo Delgado, police officers escorting the Frelimo caravan on Wednesday (18 September) in the village of Mualia witnessed a case of aggression by Frelimo sympathizers against a Renamo supporter at his business, which displayed Renamo posers. Police officers on the scene did not intervene to stop the victim from being beaten

In Mutarara district, Tete, two Renamo supporters were injured and evacuated to Inhangoma Health Post for hospital care after being beaten by Frelimo supporters during the election campaign on Tuesday, 17 September. The police witnessed the assaults. The case was referred to the Mutarara District Prosecutor's Office for follow-up and there are no detainees, although

Police head transferred for not backing Frelimo

The head of the police operations command in Macossa district, Manica, Francisco Patricio, was removed from office and transferred to the provincial capital, Chimoio, after protests from Freimo. “I have no information on the reasons for my removal,” said Patricio.

But our correspondents' investigation shows the removal of the agent comes after a series of complaints from senior Frelimo members that he escorted a Renamo caravan campaigning in the district.

On 10 September, Frelimo and Renamo parades met on the Mucombedzi bridge in the district. At the time, Particio, the senior officer on the scene, gave Renamo's caravan priority to cross. Frelimo supporters accused him of serving Renamo interests.

Two days later, Patrick was advised to resign by the provincial police commander, the Director of Public Order in Manica, due to alleged pressure from the provincial Frelimo committee.

“Renamo asked for protection and I just did my duty,” said Partricio. “I did everything I could to make things not go wrong. Am I to be sacrificed for it?" he added.

The head of the operations command also allegedly refused an order from Frelimo to remove opposition flags and posters from the Macossa village market. “I did nothing wrong, I acted in accordance with the law,” said Patricio.

No escorts

At the beginning of the campaign, the police nationally promised escorts for all party parades. But our correspondents report widespread refusals to provide a escort. "Our caravan moves without police support even after we have handed our program to the police authorities," Renamo's delegate in Manica district told this Bulletin. In Gaza's Bilene district, police refuse to escort MDM caravans when requested by the party, district party delegate Leonardo Macave told the Bulletin.

In Morrumbene, Inhambane district, MDM and Renamo have not been escorted by police during the campaign. Meanwhile, while traveling around the localities, Frelimo caravans are accompanied by 4 police officers.

Frelimo supporters try to intimidate our correspondents

Three correspondents of this newsletter, two duly accredited by provincial elections commissions as national observers of the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), were bullied for their work over the past week, in the districts of Chigubo, Gaza; Mulevala, Zambezia; and Tambara, Manica. Two had the mobile phones they use in their work taken.

In Chigubo, Gaza, our correspondent was beaten and his mobile phone taken and given to the police. After presenting the police with a credential, his mobile phone was given back to him, but with police orders not to cover the Frelimo campaign. Subsequent death threats to our accredited correspondent were sufficiently serious that he was forced to leave his house.

In Tambara, our accredited correspondent was summoned on Friday (20 September) for a hearing at the Tambara district police station, accused by Frelimo of being a Renamo informant. In his defence, the journalist presented his observer credential and explained the scope of his activities. On Tuesday (17 September) he had been banned from covering the Frelimo campaign by the party committee secretary Armindo Baulene who told him that "if I continue to cover Frelimo I will be arrested or my family will regret it."

In Mulevala, Zambezia, Frelimo members confiscated a Bulletin correspondent's cell phone as he was taking pictures of pamphlets at the market in the district's village town, and was later warned by the police. CIP sent a lawyer to try to retrieve the phone and to follow up the case. The Zambezia Provincial Election Commission (CPE) has not responded to the requests by CIP for the issuance of credentials. But even without credential, there are no legal restrictions against anyone taking pictures in a market.

In all cases, Frelimo supporters accuse CIP observers of being "Renamo spies" without providing evidence. CIP correspondents have been covering the campaign of all political parties, exposing the irregularities practiced by all.

Nampula still not issuing credentials for observers.

Our 70 Nampula correspondents spread across 23 districts of Nampula province, are struggling to gain accreditation to cover the entire electoral process. More than two weeks into the Election Campaign, the Electoral Bodies Press Center (CPE and STAE) has not yet commented on the letter submitted to the Provincial Election Commission on 21 May this year. The head of the Nampula correspondents team was advised by Press Centre Chief Josina Taipo not to talk about CIP or credentials again, for reasons she declined to disclose.

At a press conference held last Tuesday (17), Albertino Luis, CPE's spokesman said that only 102 journalists from a total of 145 media professionals have been accredited so far.

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