Cablegate: Correction Copy: Mozambique 2004 General Elections: Oct

Published: Tue 16 Nov 2004 10:57 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
B. MAPUTO 1371
C. MAPUTO 1341
1. (U) Not for internet distribution.
2. Summary and Comment
3. Presidential Candidates: And Then There Were Five...
6. Lists Finalized for Parliamentary Elections
10. Relative Peace on the Campaign Trail
12. Media Coverage More Balanced
14. Comment
Summary and Comment
2. (SBU) Five presidential candidates and 21 political parties
will stand in presidential and parliamentary elections on
December 1 2, the third in Mozambique's history. The ruling
FRELIMO and RENAMO remain the leading parties, though two small
parties may take some support from them. Campaigning, which
began October 17, has proceeded relatively calmly, with fewer and
less violent incidents than in previous campaigns. Media
coverage has also been more balanced, with RENAMO presidential
candidate Afonso Dhlakama and others receiving significant
coverage even in state-run media. Despite the continuing
disagreement between the EU and the elections commission over
observer access (septel), this year's elections may be calmer and
better organized than the two previous Presidential elections.
End Summary and Comment.
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Presidential Candidates: And Then There Were Five...
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3. (U) The Constitutional Council accepted five of the eight
presidential nominations for the December 1 - 2 presidential
elections. The five candidates are Armando Guebuza, FRELIMO (the
ruling party); Afonso Dhlakama, RENAMO; Raul Domingos, Party for
Peace, Development and Democracy (PDD); Carlos Reis, Mozambique
National Union (UNAMO); and Yaqub Sibindy, Independent Party of
Mozambique (PIMO). Three candidates were rejected because they
did not present the required 10,000 valid supporting signatures
from registered voters. The three were Neves Serrano,
Progressive Liberal Party of Mozambique (PPLM); Joaquim Nhota,
Democratic Liberal Party of Mozambique (PADELIMO); and Jose
Massinga, National Democratic Party (PANADE). None of the three
had been expected to have any effect on the election.
4. (SBU) The two main candidates, Armando Guebuza of FRELIMO and
Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO, both are under pressure to win.
FRELIMO liberated the country from the Portuguese and has ruled
since independence in 1975, and some Mozambicans continue to see
little distinction between the party and the government. As a
result, a loss by Guebuza, who has less personal popularity than
eighteen-year President Joaquim Chissano but has been campaigning
for months, would be an historic defeat. If Dhlakama loses for
the third consecutive time, RENAMO members could demand that he
resign as leader of the party, which he has led since it was a
guerrilla group fighting the FRELIMO government in the sixteen-
year civil war.
5. (SBU) The two main candidates also face a potential loss of
votes to small party candidates. Following gains made during the
2003 municipal elections, PIMO candidate Yacub Sibindy could take
votes from FRELIMO in the predominantly Muslim areas of Nampula,
Cabo Delgado and Zambezia. PDD's Raul Domingos, a longtime
RENAMO stalwart who was the party's negotiator in the 1992 peace
accords, may walk away with RENAMO votes among the central
provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia, where his Sena
tribe is strong. Carlos Reis has attracted less support and has
so far limited his campaigning to Zambezia. (Nampula and
Zambezia are the country's most populous provinces, combining for
almost 40 percent of registered voters. Maputo city and Maputo
province together have less than 12 percent.) In theory, if
Guebuza and Dhlakama receive almost equal support, the other
candidates could get enough so that neither receives 50 percent,
forcing a runoff. There has been little discussion of and no
preparations for this possibility, however.
Lists Finalized for Parliamentary Elections
6. (U) Voters will have to choose among a long list of parties in
the parliamentary elections, as 21 political parties and
coalitions have met the conditions to stand. All 250
parliamentary seats are at stake in the December general
elections; 248 in Mozambique and two in the emigrant
constituencies of Africa and Europe. This resulted from the
decision of the National Elections Commission (CNE) to register
voters in Africa and Europe for the first time and allow them to
vote for presidential candidates and elect legislators. In 1999,
the 250 seats were split 133 for FRELIMO, which received 48.88
percent of vote, to 117 for RENAMO, which received 38.55 percent
of the vote.
7. (U) The number of parliamentary seats gained by each party is
based on the proportion of votes won in each province. For
example, if FRELIMO wins 50 percent of the vote in Nampula, which
has 50 seats available, the party will gain 25 seats in
parliament. A party or coalition must win at least 5 percent of
the national vote in order to gain a seat; if it does not, its
votes are not counted in the proportional allocation of seats in
each province. The Democratic Union of Mozambique (UDEMO) took 5
percent of the vote and 9 seats in 1994, while no single small
party gained the 5 percent need to win a seat in 1999. The PDD
and PIMO won individual seats in five municipal assemblies in the
November 2003 municipal elections and stand the best chance of
the small parties of winning Assembly seats.
8. (SBU) On October 22, the CNE confirmed that presidential
candidates may also stand for seats in parliament. RENAMO party
members had challenged the validity of the candidacies of Raul
Domingos (PDD), Yaqub Sibindy (PIMO) and Carlos Reis (PANADE)
because the three were also standing in the parliamentary
election. The CNE confirmed, however, that though the law
prohibits a person from serving as both President and a member of
parliament, there is no ban on standing for both posts and
choosing one if needed. Although yet to be put in practice, it
has long been assumed that losing presidential candidates could
serve in parliament. Dhlakama has not done this in any of his
three presidential bids, though some argue that his status would
be enhanced if he were head of the opposition bench in
9. (SBU) There were some noteworthy developments in the official
delegate lists released on October 14. Prime Minister Luisa
Diogo heads the FRELIMO delegate list in Zambezia province and
current Minister of Transportation Tomaz Augusto Salomo heads
the list in Manica province. (This does not mean that they are
not candidates for ministerial positions if Guebuza wins, as
those chosen as ministers have the option of resigning their
parliamentary seats.) On the RENAMO side, outspoken senior
RENAMO member Rahil Khan was left off the delegate list in Maputo
to make room for new director of the RENAMO election office,
Eduardo Namburete, described by many as an up-and-comer within
the Renamo ranks. Since being named to office in July 2004,
Namburete has accompanied and advised Dhlakama on the campaign
trail and is believed to be behind RENAMO's apparent change in
campaign tactics away from belittling FRELIMO. Unlike in past
campaigns, this year Dhlakama has avoided direct criticism of
FRELIMO and instead has focused what he intends to do as
president. Another new face on the RENAMO list is Dr. Manuel
Araujo, a British-trained political scientist.
Relative Peace on the Campaign Trail
10. (U) Official campaigning by political parties and
presidential candidates began on October 17 and will run through
November 28. There have been some reports of political
intimidation and minor violence, mostly rock-throwing, between
opposing parties in hotspots like Nampula and Tete. One of the
more serious incidents occurred on Ilha de Mocambique, off the
coast in Nampula, where FRELIMO members reportedly attacked the
home of RENAMO Mayor Gulamo Mamudo. (Note: Ilha was one of the
five mayorships RENAMO won in the 2003 municipal elections. End
note.) There was one fatal shooting that may have had a
political aspect, but the circumstances were not clear, and
neither party has made it a campaign issue. Nevertheless,
overall the campaign appears to be running smoothly, with
significantly fewer and less violent incidents than in previous
11. (U) Both main contenders in the presidential race, Guebuza
and Dhlakama, have been active campaigners, visiting cities
throughout the country and campaigning in potentially hostile
terrain. Guebuza recently went to Dhlakama's home province of
Sofala, while Dhlakama toured the southern city of Matola, a
FRELIMO stronghold. Guebuza promises to fight absolute poverty
and corruption, while rebuilding Mozambique's industrial and
economic infrastructure. Dhlakama often claims in his speeches
that he will build a genuine rule of law in Mozambique by truly
separating the state from the ruling party. The PDD's Domingos
is pledging dozens of changes to state services, making education
reform his top priority. PIMO's campaign platform has focused on
the need to promote moral values, while UNAMO seeks to address
the development asymmetry between north and south through the
establishment of a federal system of government.
Media Coverage More Balanced
12. (SBU) Press coverage of this year's election campaign has
proved more balanced than in past elections. The public
television station TVM, traditionally FRELIMO-biased, has been
giving Dhlakama and other opposition parties significantly more -
though still not equal - coverage than in previous campaigns. A
Dhlakama statement espousing the need to separate the party from
the state, which likely would not have reached the television
public in the past, was recently aired on TVM, and TVM has aired
several interviews with a PDD political commission member. Many
attribute TVM's new tone to the public uproar that followed its
decision not to broadcast a paid advertisement for a book that
offered a version of the struggle for independence that differed
from FRELIMO's version. TVM staff have privately conceded that
the order not to broadcast the advertisement came from the
FRELIMO Central Committee. (Note: Several senior journalists and
editors from pro-government outlets like "Noticias," TVM, AIM,
and "Domingo" are said to be members of the FRELIMO Electoral
Campaign Office. End note.) The private television station STV,
which was not operating during the 1999 campaign, has provided
balanced coverage of the main parties. In both 1999 general
elections and the 2003 municipal elections, public-owned Radio
Mozambique was praised for its balanced reporting. Its coverage
of the 2004 electoral campaign continues to be objective, and it
and TVM provide the range of political parties access for party
messages to voters.
13. (SBU) Despite the headway, some issues remain. Both sides of
the equation - journalists and political parties -- have lodged
complaints about access to candidates and media outlets,
respectively. The privately-owned weekly "Zambeze," which tends
to be relatively objective and balanced in its reporting,
recently complained that Guebuza's campaign officials refused to
"embed" one of its reporters in a campaign delegation, citing
logistical limitations.
14. (SBU) Allegations of fraud are a fixture in Mozambique's
electoral history, and the continuing dispute between the CNE and
the EU over observer access to vote tabulation (septel) is reason
for concern. However, with the campaign running relatively
peacefully, a new electoral law in place (ref C), and increased
experience in electoral administration, these elections may be
calmer and better organized than those of 1994 and 1999. End
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