A Friday press release from the Observatory stated that it will place observers at 2,107 polling stations - or 12.4 per cent of the total.
This is a random sample of stations large enough to provide a parallel count that can be projected onto the entire election with a margin of error of two per cent.
The release says that during polling day the Observatory will issue three preliminary statements. The first, in mid-morning, will refer to the opening of the polling stations. In principle, all the stations should open at 07.00.
The second will estimate turnout, and should be issued at about 15.30. The third and final statement of the day will cover the close of polls. This is scheduled for 18.00 - but anyone still waiting to vote at that time will be given a numbered ticket, and the polls will not close until all the people with tickets have voted.
The results from the 2,107 polling stations will be fed into a data base. This work should be complete within 48 hours, and the Observatory promises that it will then issue a Preliminary Declaration on the entire electoral process.
The results from the sample polling stations, the release adds, will be made available to the public at large, as well as to the National Elections Commission (CNE), the Constitutional Council (the country's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law), and the three political parties represented in parliament (the ruling Frelimo Party, the former rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM).
This is a complete reversal of the position expressed by the Observatory earlier in the week. On Tuesday, at a round table organised by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), the Observatory's chairperson, Rev Anastacio Chembeze, said the Observatory would undertake a parallel count, but would not make the results public.
A press release from CIP said this decision was received with “surprise and concern” by the other participants at the round table. CIP described the Observatory's position as “a great setback” for transparency in Mozambican elections.
It would seem that the Observatory has listened to these criticisms, and has returned to its usual practice of publishing the results from the parallel count.