July 15, 2004

Opposition parties demand extended voter registration

Opposition parties have delivered to the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Rev Arao Litsuri, a demand that the voter registration period should be extended for a further ten days. The main opposition force, the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, put its name to this document, as did 18 tiny organisations. The document claimed that the distribution of voter registration brigades "was very tendentious and followed a policy of exclusion, that is, to create an atmosphere that causes the population in areas under the influence of the opposition not to go en masse to the registration posts". Yet the location of the 2.494 registration posts was decided by the CNE, eight of whose 19 members were appointed by Renamo. Furthermore, some of the statements in the document are wrong on points of law.

The opposition claimed, for instance, that the electoral registers cannot be altered or corrected without the presence of political party monitors. It also declared that registers are only valid when signed by the party monitors. By law, however, the appointment of monitors is voluntary. Parties are not obliged to appoint them, and once appointed there is nothing in the law that obliges the monitors to go to the registration posts every day. Most parties are quite unable to appoint monitors to cover 2.494 places; only Renamo and the ruling Frelimo Party have this capacity. Reporters visiting the posts have remarked that even Frelimo and Renamo monitors were sometimes not present.

CNE spokesperson Filipe Mandlate has already categorically ruled out any extension of the registration period. Only the full CNE can make a recommendation on extending the registration - and most CNE members are currently working in the provinces. Any extension would have a knock-on effect on the rest of the electoral calendar and would endanger the election dates of 1-2 December. Furthermore, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) has estimated that there was about 700.000 people to be registered or re-registered and not the hypothetical 1.3 million which Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga has estimated. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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