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15.11.2019 Mozambique

Mozambique's top court rejects Renamo's poll challenge

By Aldermiro BANDE
Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 percent of the vote.  By GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (AFP/File)
NOV 15, 2019 MOZAMBIQUE
Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 percent of the vote. By GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (AFP/File)

Mozambique's top court has thrown out a legal challenge by main opposition party Renamo to annul last month's election results for what it claims was widespread and brazen intimidation and fraud.

Renamo, a rebel group turned opposition party, lost the October 15 election to the Frelimo party, which has ruled Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975.

It accused the government of "massive electoral fraud" and using violence and intimidation in a breach of a peace deal between the two parties who once fought a civil war.

But the Constitutional Court, in a judgement dated November 11 but seen on its website on Friday, rejected the application saying Renamo "did not submit enough evidence to sustain its complaint".

Last week, the European Union cast doubt on the credibility on the results, saying its observers detected several "irregularities and malpractices" and called on authorities to clarify them.

Mozambican civil society and international observers had already flagged alleged attempts to stuff ballot boxes and chase away election monitors and said there were hundreds of thousands of "ghost voters" on the electoral roll.

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 percent of the vote.

The election posed a major challenge to the country's already fragile peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo which fought a civil war from 1975-1992 that left one million dead.

Renamo said the court decision did not come as a surprise as the election commission and the constitutional court were biased.

"We received the decision with indignation, although it doesn't surprise us," Jose Manteigas, Renamo's national spokesman told AFP.

"We don't know which... evidence the Constitutional Court wants when all the national and international observers reported countrywide misconduct," he said.

The EU observation mission said the irregularities included "ballot-box stuffing, multiple voting, intentional invalidation of votes for the opposition, and altering of polling station results with the fraudulent addition of extra votes".

It also noted unlikely turnout figures, deviations between polling stations in the same polling centre, and poll workers, civil servants, and electors found with ballot papers outside polling stations.

There were also "hundreds of cases countrywide of polling station presidents expelling opposition party agents and party-appointed poll workers, often with the assistance of police," said the EU.

Frelimo has termed the elections free and fair.

The election was one of Mozambique's most violent campaigns ever with at least 10 people killed in the run-up, according to a local observer mission.

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