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Mozambicans head to the polling stations amid alleged irregularities

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Mozambicans turned out on Tuesday, 15 October 2019, to elect a president, members of parliament and provincial governors amid alleged irregularities in the conduct of the poll.

Voting started on time at 07:00 at most of the 20 162 polling stations opened dotted across this vast south-eastern African country. According to observers, long queues were observed at polling stations in a number of provinces, particularly in Nampula and Zambezia.

President Filipe Nyusi voted at a school in Maputo while his main rival, Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, cast his ballot in his hometown on the Island of Mozambique in Nampula province.

Nyusi, who is seeking a second term, called on his compatriots to show that “we stand for democracy and tolerance”.

“Let’s continue this process in a serene way. Peace means that everything must be done according to the rules,” Nyusi said after casting his vote.

Most analysts believe the 60-year-old president will cruise to a second five-year term despite his popularity taking a hit from a financial crisis linked to alleged state corruption. Momade however vowed that he “will never” accept “rigged election results”.

“If these are manipulated results, we can never accept (them) and we are determined to do anything whatsoever that the people indicate,” Momade told journalists after casting his vote.

He alleged that the ruling Frelimo was trying to manipulate the vote by stuffing ballots and showed the journalists two ballot papers that he claimed were confiscated from a member of the governing party.

Voting is expected to close at 18:00, with preliminary results expected to start trickling from Wednesday, 16 October 2019, although Mozambican law allows up to 15 days for the final poll outcome to be announced.

The elections are seen as a litmus test for a fragile peace deal signed by the two leaders in August 2019, which ended years of armed clashes between Renamo militants and government troops.

Insecurity also poses a growing threat, with at least ten polling stations not able to open in northernmost Cabo Delgado province as Mozambique’s election authority said it could not guarantee safety from attacks by extremists who have killed more than 400 people in the past two years.

That means some 5,400 people are not able to vote.

-APA

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