October 14, 2003

Municipial election process being questioned/Opinion polls

The run-up to Mozambique's municipal elections, scheduled for 19 November, has been plagued by problems relating to the registration of candidates and the establishment of a statutory body to supervise the conduct of the polls. The chairman of the Legal Affairs Commission of parliament, Aly Dauto, said that a Constitutional Council - the statutory body meant to supervise elections - had still not been established.

"It would be ideal for the Constitutional Council to be already functioning. There are complaints from some parties as to how their candidatures for the local elections have been handled, and it is within the powers of the Constitutional Council to deal with this". Meanwhile, there has also been concern over the registration of candidates for the November poll.

The National Election Commission (CNE) notified that of the 94 mayoral candidates, only 33 from Frelimo had presented nomination papers free of any irregularities. The 61 other candidate nomination papers contained errors or omissions, the most common of which involved supporting signatures. Candidates are supposed to present a list of supporters amounting to at least one percent of the municipal electorate.

The first opinion poll published in the run-up to this year's municipal elections shows that Eneas Comiche, the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party, is likely to become the next mayor of Maputo.

The poll shows that Comiche is well out in front, with 36 per cent of those questioned saying they will vote for him. In second place is Philippe Gagneaux, the candidate of the independent citizens' group "Juntos pela Cidade" (JPC - Together for the City) with 16 per cent. JPC has been the opposition in the Maputo Municipal Assembly for the last five years, and, if this poll is trustworthy, it is likely to keep this position. Two other independent candidates also score in double digits - Carlos Jeque with 12 per cent, and Pedro Loforte with 10 per cent.

Opposition political parties are nowhere in sight. So few people said they would vote for Artur Vilanculos, candidate of the Renamo, that his figure was rounded down to zero per cent. 22 per cent of those questioned, however, said they had not yet made up their minds.

The opinion poll used a sample of 2.392 voters living in all Maputo municipal districts except the island of Inhaca, and the township of Catembe on the other side of Maputo Bay. If this prophecy is fulfilled, then Frelimo could win in a city that is generally regarded as a Renamo stronghold. (Agencia de Informação de Mocambique, Maputo)

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