Mozambique: NRM ‘Mother’ Party FRELIMO In Tight Contest With Renamo

President Arrnando Guebuza (left) and former Renamo rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama agreed on a peace accord in September
President Arrnando Guebuza (left) and former Renamo rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama agreed on a peace accord in September

Elections are being held held in Mozambique, with the governing Frelimo party facing a tough challenge from longstanding opponent, Renamo.

Frelimo has dominated the country’s politics since independence from Portugal in 1975, but the last-minute entry of Renamo makes the presidential vote too tight to call.

Mozambique is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

The vote winner will control natural resources worth billions of dollars.

Mozambique was battered by 16 years of conflict between Frelimo and Renamo, which ended in 1992, after the deaths of an estimated one million people.

Renamo took up arms again in 2013 but in August agreed a ceasefire.

Correspondents say that there were several clashes during campaigning.

The opposition argues that only a small elite associated with Frelimo have reaped the benefits of Mozambique’s new-found prosperity. It points out that although Mozambique has huge untapped resources of coal and natural gas, it is also one of the world’s poorest countries.

A relatively new party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), led by the mayor of the second city, Beira, has also been gaining ground and could make gains in the parliamentary vote.

Correspondents say that Frelimo, which waged a 10-year battle for independence against colonial Portugal, has held on to power partly because of its liberation movement credentials but also because Renamo has failed until now to present a political alternative that reaches out beyond its core supporters.

President Armando Guebuza, a former millionaire businessman, is stepping down after serving the maximum two terms.

Analysts say changes in the electoral law, which mean the two main parties have representatives at the National Electoral Commission (CNE), should ensure the legislative and presidential count is more transparent.

The European Union is sending election observers, as is the US-based Carter Center, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union.

More than 10.7 million people are registered to vote in the country’s 11 provinces, as well as more than 89,500 Mozambicans in the diaspora.

BBC

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