February 11, 2004

Government defends right of emigrants to vote

Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao has made clear that, if it were up to his government, Mozambicans living abroad would be allowed to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections, due this year. "Unfortunately", he said, "this is not the wish of some of the opposition political parties". He was referring to Renamo as well as to the minor parties allied to it, who have denied voting rights to Mozambican emigrants ever since the first multi-party elections in 1994. On this issue, Renamo has enjoyed an effective right of veto on the National Elections Commission (CNE).

Commenting on the electoral calendar, Simao claimed that all is being running according to the plan, recalling the municipal elections that took place last November, in which the ruling Frelimo party won in 28 of the 33 municipalities. On this matter, he acknowledged that a few "small mistakes that need correction", occurred in some places, as noted by the observers, but the announced results reflect the will of the electorate. Simao said that some of the aspects that need improvement concern voter registration, because "we have not yet been able to create mechanisms to register all people as they turn 18, so that they are able to vote". "There are people who miss their right to vote and we do not have yet a mechanism to scratch off some names from the register, in the event of deaths", he said. He added that all was being done to create a strong link between the civil registry offices and the National Elections Commission (CNE), to improve the updating of the electoral register. (Agencia de Informaçao de Moçambique, Maputo)

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