Mozambique – Elections: FRELIMO triumphs, opposition party RENAMO gains ground

On the 15th of October, Mozambique held its fifth multiparty presidential, parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. Although the official election results have yet to be announced, projections show that longtime ruling party FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) is predicted to win both the presidency and parliamentary elections, but with a lower margin compared to the 75 per cent it gained in the last election in 2009.

The president of Mozambique is elected through a direct popular vote for a five-year term. The electoral system is based on the majoritarian two-round system. The last presidential election was held in 2009. President Armando Guebuza of FRELIMO, who is finishing his second term, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

The presidential election was fought between three candidates: former defence minister Filipe Nyusi (FRELIMO), Afonso Dhlakama (RENAMO – Resistência Nacional Moçambicana) and Daviz Simango, the leader of MDM (Movimento Democrático de Moçambique), who is also the mayor of Mozambique’s second largest city Beira.

Provisional results suggested Nyusi winning the presidency with 57 per cent of the votes, and Dhlakama following with 36 per cent, and Simango earning around 7 per cent. It is worth noting that Nuysi did worse than Guebuza who received 75 per cent of votes in the 2009 presidential election. By contrast, Dhlakama saw his share of the vote more than double, from 16.41 to 36 percent. Simango got 9 per cent in the 2009 presidential election and thus lost 2 per cent of the votes.

As for the parliamentary election, FRELIMO is expected to win an absolute majority. The former liberation party has controlled both the presidency and the legislature since the first general elections of 1994.

Despite the fact that FRELIMO is likely to win the presidency and an absolute majority in parliament, initial results show the party may end up with 50 seats fewer than it won in the 2009 parliamentary elections. Mozambique has a unicameral parliament with 250 seats. The composition of the new parliament is likely to be 142 seats for FRELIMO, 89 for RENAMO and 19 for the MDM. So FRELIMO probably loses its comfortable two-thirds majority – which means that should it wish to change the constitution, it can no longer do so on its own.

Meanwhile, RENAMO believes it is the legitimate winner. Dhlakama says he is willing to negotiate with FRELIMO and has suggested a government of national unity. Yet, it is highly probable that FRELIMO will form the next government. The preliminary results also reflect a growing dissatisfaction with politics. The voter turnout is expected to be similar or below to the 45 per cent in 2009 and 43 per cent in 2004.

The presidential and legislative election is being closely watched, especially by foreign investors, as Mozambique stands on the cusp of reaping vast wealth from its nascent gas industry.

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