Mozambique: Bail Refused for 17 New Democracy Observers Held for 2 Weeks

Bail was refused today by the Chokwe District Court in Gaza for 17 party delegates (poll watchers, party observers) and the local party agent (mandatario) of New Democracy (Novo Democracia, ND), who were arrested on polling day, 15 October.

Over 200 ND observers were expelled from polling stations by police and the STAE director on voting day for allegedly having false credentials, and the 18 were arrested, said Quiteria Guirengane, the ND's national agent.

By law, the district election commission (CDE) must issue credentials to two party delegates for each polling station. ND applied for 282 credentials which the CDE refused to issue. Guirengane says she talked to national electoral authorities who put pressure on Chokwe CDE who finally issued the credentials on 14 October.

The Chokwe Technical Secretariat of Electoral Administration (STAE) argues it issued a few credentials, but effectively admits it illegally refused to issue the rest, and claims that ND then illegally photocopied the real credentials. Thus it ordered the delegates arrested, saying one illegality did not cancel out the other.

Guirengane says those arrested are "political prisoners".

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