Mozambique: Campaign 'Lacks Sense of Peace and Reconciliation'

Maputo — The election campaign currently under way in Mozambique has been marked by the lack of any sense of peace and reconciliation between political parties in areas prone to electoral conflicts, according to the election observation platform "Monitor - Justice, Peace and Democracy".

This is a platform supported by several civil society bodies, and by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

At a Monitor press conference in Maputo on Tuesday, the platform's spokesperson, Carlos Matsinhe, the Anglican Bishop of the Libombos Diocese, said there had been clear expression of hatred in the districts of Angoche and Nacala, in the northern province of Nampula, where members of political parties had exchanged both insults and blows.

"Frelimo and Renamo members did not want to pass each other on the same street in Inguri (a neighbourhood of Angoche), and the police had to use tear gas", said the Bishop. He denounced a "predisposition to conflict" visible in both parties, who each blame the other for starting the disturbances.

He noted there had been attacks against women in Quelimane, Nampula and Angoche, simply for wearing clothing bearing the symbols of a rival party.

Matsinhe also denounced the use of teachers and nurses in the Frelimo election campaign during working hours, which harms the interests of schoolchildren and of the users of health units. Obliging public servants to join a political campaign is illegal, but it is reported every time a general election approaches.

Monitor is also indignant that, although their election observers have been duly accredited by the National Elections Commission (CNE), political parties sometimes demand other forms of credentials issued by the parties. They prevent observers from attending events which are, in principle, public, and even accuse them of being "spies".

The platform noted that parties also break the electoral law by making a parallel registration of voters' data, and even collecting their voter cards, promising to return them at a later date. This activity is mostly associated with Frelimo, though Monitor says the same accusation is sometimes levelled against Renamo and the MDM (Mozambique Democratic Movement).

Monitor urged the political parties to concentrate on promoting their election manifestos in the remaining 13 days of the campaign, and to abide by the law.

The platform hopes that each party will close its campaign in an orderly and peaceful manner, instead of carrying a message of violence to the electorate.

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