Mozambique Political Process Bulletin
5 July 2018
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Frelimo halts electoral process, but parties say elections will happen

Submission of candidates lists for 10 October municipal assemblies did not start today as planned, halting all progress toward the election, following a National Elections Commission decision at its meeting yesterday, 4 July. CNE spokesperson Paulo Cuinica said th

another FRELIMO in the wall

another FRELIMO in the wall

Image by camisa florida

at the CNE decided it could not move forward until a new electoral law was approved.

The CNE was divided, with some arguing that the constitutional changes only affected the direct election of mayor, and that the system for electing the municipal assembly was not changing. Although the head of the most voted candidates list becomes mayor under the constitutional changes, this does not change the way the assembly is elected. 

But the majority of the CNE members are Frelimo and Frelimo-aligned civil society, who took a hard line that the CNE would not move without a new electoral law. A special parliament session was scheduled for 21-22 June and members of parliament (MPs) were arriving on Wednesday 20 June when Frelimo suddenly ambushed the session, saying they would not allow it to be held until there was further Renamo action on demilitarization, with some statements saying the 10 October election could only be held if Renamo demilitarized by then. Frelimo in the CNE is effectively linking municipal elections to progress on demilitarization talks.

Is there enough time?

With registration twice delayed, the schedule was already very tight. Is there enough time to hold elections this year? And is there political will? The two key parties, Frelimo and Renamo, say Yes, and are moving ahead with the selections of lists and naming the key head of list - the potential mayor. And despite the hard line and strong words, both sides are leaving space for sufficient movement on demilitarization and elections.

Frelimo is using the elections to pressure the new Renamo leadership to agree demilitarization and integration of Renamo fighters into the police, army and security services. Frelimo wants some action before October this year; Renamo does not trust Frelimo decentralisation promises so wants to retain some armed men to be integrated into the provincial police of Renamo governors who take office in January 2020.

The earliest a parliament session could be held is late this month, delaying the process by at least a month. But the calendar could be adapted. Submission of candidates lists had been scheduled for 5-27 July, but as the parties are already preparing lists, that could be reduced from 22 days to 10 days. And, with agreement of the Council of Ministers, elections could be delayed slightly - to 24 or 31 October, which is only at the start of the rainy season. But that still requires a military agreement in the next two weeks.

Submission of candidates lists is the next essential step, and is time consuming. There are 1388 council seats, and parties must submit 3 supplementary candidates - so the big parties will have 1417 candidates. Each candidate must submit five documents. So the CNE must approve more than 5000 candidates and 25,000 documents, and give parties time to correct any errors.

25 parties, coalitions and lists approved

Before its move into a state of suspension, the CNE did register 17 political parties, 4 coalitions of political parties, and 4 citizen's lists for the 10 October elections. By law, parties and coalitions must be national and based in Maputo, so they register with the CNE in Maputo. Citizens lists are local to the municipality and register with the district election commission; 4 registrations have been reported by the CNE and 3 were still being considered locally. 

 

Editor: Joseph Hanlon ( j.hanlon@open.ac.uk)
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