Maputo — Several prominent Mozambican civil society organisations have warned of the possibility of further violence following the announcement of the results from the general elections scheduled for 15 October.
At a joint press conference on Thursday, the Youth Parliament, the Human Rights League (LDH), the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), and the Forum of Community Radios (FORCOM) called for “Zero Tolerance for Electoral Violence”.
They demanded that the political parties respect the law and refrain from any act that violates the Mozambican constitution, the electoral legislation “and the most basic rules for living together”.
They also insisted that the police and the courts should act “with the necessary impartiality, objectivity and rigour”, and should ensure that all those responsible for acts of violence are prosecuted.
This appeal follows the September clashes in the southern province of Gaza, in which groups of supporters of the ruling Frelimo Party attacked the motorcade of Daviz Simango, the leader and presidential candidate of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
The MDM retaliated by taking a mock coffin, decorated with images of the Frelimo presidential candidate, Filipe Nyusi, into Heroes' Square in the northern city of Nampula, on 25 September during solemn celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the launching of the armed struggle for Mozambican independence in 1964. This led to clashes with the police who used tear gas to disperse the MDM demonstrators.
Alice Mabota, chairperson of the LDH, warned that more serious violence might follow the announcement of the election results, if any of the competing forces refused to recognise the results.
The four organisations noted that when elections are badly managed they can lead to a climate of violence, as happened in Ivory Coast, Kenya and Zimbabwe, and warned that Mozambique might be heading in the same direction.
The criticized the police for its bias in favour of Frelimo, They accused the police of being indifferent to violence when it is provoked by Frelimo, but of repressing opposition parties whenever their members commit offences such as ripping down Frelimo posters. They noticed that, since the election campaign began on 31 August, the police have detained many more supporters of the MDM and of the former rebel movement Renamo than they have of Frelimo.
In order to avoid any further spreads of violence, they called for a radical change in the behaviour of the political parties, the electoral bodies and the police.