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Mozambique opposition cries foul over election

The country went to the polls on 10 October in a key test for the ongoing peace talks between the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo.

FILE: A woman casts her ballot at a rural polling station in Catembe, Mozambique, or the second day of the elections. Picture: United Nations Photo.

MAPUTO - Mozambique’s Renamo opposition on Saturday accused the government of falsifying local election results in several areas, warning that such a move could prompt it to abandon peace talks.

The country went to the polls on 10 October in a key test for the ongoing peace talks between the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo - negotiations which began in 2016 to end three years of violence between government troops and Renamo rebels.

“We do not want war, but we also do not accept any attempt to change the popular will,” Renamo’s acting leader Ossufo Momade told reporters.

Although the official results have not yet been published, Renamo says the party had been cheated of victory in one major city and three other towns, accusing election officials of tampering with the results.

“If the popular vote is not respected, Renamo will break off the negotiations and the consequences will be entirely the responsibility of (President Filipe Nyusi) and the Frelimo Party,” he said.

Partial results from a third of Mozambique’s 53 municipalities, released Thursday, gave Frelimo a clear lead, although Renamo claims to have won in dozens of areas, including in Matulo, the country’s most heavily-populated city.

Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since its independence from Portugal in 1975, currently controls 49 of the country’s 53 municipalities.

Wednesday’s vote was the first time Renamo has contested a local election in 10 years, with the party hoping to make a breakthrough ahead of next year’s general elections.

In the mid-1970s, Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Frelimo government that left one million people dead before the fighting stopped in 1992.

Fresh violence erupted in 2013 between Renamo rebels and government troops, raising fears of a return to civil war, but the party declared a truce in 2016 and opened fresh peace talks.

Nyusi and Renamo’s Momade had recently made progress on a key sticking point in the peace talks - the disarmament and integration of former Renamo rebels into the police and army.

But Momade accused Nyusi of “silent complicity” over the intimidation and attacks on Renamo supporters during the election campaign, alleging his party was looking to push Renamo “into a new cycle of conflict”.

As well as internal political tensions, this southern African nation has also been struggling with the emergence of an Islamist insurgency in the northern coastal region which has killed scores of civilians and police.

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