Mozambique: CNE Says 10 Polling Stations Cannot Open in Cabo Delgado

Maputo — Quelimane (Mozambique), 14 Oct (AIM) - The chairperson of Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, has admitted that about 5,400 voters in the northern province of Cabo Delgado will be unable to vote in Tuesday's general elections because of the islamist insurgency in parts of the province.

Carimo said the CNE had received reports from the electoral commissions in the three districts concerned, explaining that it would be impossible to hold elections in these ten stations. Six of the stations are in Macomia district, three in Mocimboa da Praia and one in Muidumbe.

The main problem is that in these parts of Cabo Delgado, people have abandoned their villages, in the face of terrorist raids, and have fled to the relative safety of the main towns or islands.

Carimo said that, even if the location of the polling stations were changed, the voters would still be unable to cast their ballots, since they had scattered across various regions in search of safety. Many are believed to have lost all the documents that would have allowed them to vote.

Carimo said the CNE had accredited about 30,000 Mozambican election observers. No other African country had ever accredited so many observers, he said. If the CNE was afraid of observation, or was preparing fraud, it would never have accredited so many observers.

But several independent organisations have repeatedly run into difficulties in obtaining observer credentials, particularly for the two largest provincial constituencies, Nampula and Zambezia.

Thus it was only on Friday that the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) obtained all the 486 credentials it requested. The last batch (for Zambezia) were issued on Friday, and then only because of direct intervention by the CNE. The Zambezia Commission never responded to the CIP request for credentials, although the election law says that commissions have a maximum of five days to respond to applications for observer credentials.

As of Sunday, the observer groups coordinated by EISA (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa), had still not received 1,227 credentials for Zambezia, and hundreds of others for other provinces.

EISA has vast experience in observing Mozambican elections, and the claim that it has made mistakes in applying for credentials and then did not correct them is simply not credible.

Carimo claimed that observers who were still without credentials had not indicated in which part of the country they wanted to observe. Even if this were true, the provincial commissions had five days to ask for them to make the necessary corrections to their requests. The observer groups concerned say they met all the requirements but still did not receive the credentials.

A shortage of independent observers will make it difficult to carry out a credible parallel count of the votes.

Asked about alleged electoral fraud, Carimo said he could not comment on mere rumours. If anyone believed fraud was being prepared, they should provide evidence.

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