Mozambique: Sala DA Paz Calls for Integrity in Elections

Maputo — The "Sala da Paz" ("Peace Room"), one of Mozambique's main election observation coalitions, has called on the new members of the National Elections Commission (CNE) to improve the integrity of the country's elections.

A statement from the Sala da Paz urged CNE members to observe the laws, seek out consensus and hold an open and permanent dialogue with political parties and other actors involved in the country's elections.

30 years have passed since multi-party democracy was formally established in Mozambique. In those years six general presidential and parliamentary elections, five municipal elections and three provincial elections have been held. The Sala da Paz believes that this history should give Mozambique sufficient experience and capacity to join the list of countries who hold transparent elections, with credible results that are accepted by the main stakeholders.

The statement pointed out that, regardless of which party they may come from, the law protects CNE members by stating that they are irremovable. In the exercise of their duties, it is expected that they do not represent the political or social bodies they came from, and their conduct should be based on independence, impartiality and responsibility.

For the Sala da Paz, "there is no justification for elections still to be marked by accusations of fraud, by manipulation (of the voter registration and of the results), by falsification of results sheets, by disturbances during the voting and count, or by defective accreditation of observers. Even if these events occur in an isolated way, they stain the entire election and remove trust in the actors involved".

There have been occasions in the past, the statement recalled, when "the lack of integrity of elections led to protests which developed into politico-military violence, causing human and material losses".

The Sala da Paz expect the new CNE to be more open than its predecessor, to share its plans of activities publicly and to improve the mechanisms whereby the various political actors, civil society and citizens in general can contribute and participate.

The CNE, it added, must analyse the logistical constraints which have characterized previous elections, and ensure the timely accreditation of party delegates, observers and journalists.

The statement calls for "exemplary punishment" of those who violate the electoral legislation, and guarantees of security for citizens wishing to exercise their political rights.

The Sala da Paz called on government bodies, political parties, civil society, the international community, the media, and citizens in general to contribute in the best way possible to the integrity of elections, as an important indicator of the country's level of democratization.

"The adequate involvement of all these stakeholders will make a great contribution so that the results of future elections do in fact reflect the will of the citizens, and that none of the relevant actors feel prejudiced", the statement concluded.

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