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Frelimo faces electoral defeat in Maputo after court orders recount in local elections

Opposition Renamo sees ruling as vindicating its claims of systemic electoral fraud

A wave of protests claiming massive vote rigging by the ruling Frente de Libertação de Moçambique's (Frelimo) party in the 11 October local elections have prompted courts to order a series of recounts and new polls.

After the results announced by the Comissão Nacional de Eleições (electoral commission – CNE), Frelimo declared that it had won 64 out of 65 municipalities (AC Vol 64 No 21, Stolen election claims trigger protests). Activists rejected these results amid widespread reports of irregularities such as ballot stuffing, and organised nationwide protests on 12 and 17 October.

Courts have issued orders to recount votes in Matola and for new elections to be held in Chokwe (Gaza Province) and in Kamavota and Kampfumo (both in Maputo Province). Parallel counts suggest that the main opposition Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) won Matola and Maputo by a landslide – but the district elections commission announced that Frelimo has won in Matola and Maputo.

The United States embassy in Maputo pointed to the 'many credible reports of irregularities on voting day and during the vote tabulation process', adding that CNE 'must ensure all votes are counted accurately and transparently.'

The influential Conferência Episcopal de Moçambique (CEM) and its leader, Maputo Archbishop João Carlos, has also pointed to 'illicit acts and irregularities' in the election which have 'have generated a high degree of mistrust in Mozambican society and have the risk of causing instability and continued social tensions throughout the nation.'

Frelimo insiders are concerned that the backlash has seriously damaged the the standing of the party and that of President Filipe Nyusi ahead of presidential elections in 2024.

On 26 October the CNE is constitutionally required to announce results in all 65 municipalities, and submit those results to the Constitutional Council which will have to adjudicate on the huge gaps between official results and parallel counts. If court rulings don't put that process on hold, activists are likely to organise more protests.

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