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Free, Fair, Peaceful Election for Mozambique?

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi, center left, and Renamo (Mozambican National Resistence) leader Ossufo Momade hug after signing a cease-fire agreement in Maputo, Mozambique, Aug. 6, 2019.
Free, Fair, Peaceful Election for Mozambique? No Way, Observers Say.
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An escalating rebel movement, attacks on political campaigners and a frightened population have people worrying about Mozambique’s elections.

The voting takes place this Tuesday, October 15.

The vote appears to be a simple competition between Frelimo, Mozambique’s long-time ruling party, and the opposition Renamo party. But experts say it is much more complex than that.

In fact, some observers predict the elections will lack two important qualities: fairness and peace.

"It’s not going to be free and fair," said Jasmine Opperman. She heads the Africa office of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.

"There are simply too many indicators going against…democracy and the standard of democracy," she said.

Observers question whether the voting will bring what the southern African nation badly needs: peace after many years of conflict between the government and armed members of the opposition.

President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade signed a peace agreement earlier this year. However, human rights experts say they suspect the peace deal will not last.

A deadly rebellion is growing in the country’s north. Hundreds of people have been killed during the election campaign. And, Human Rights Watch researcher Zenaida Machado notes her group has seen many reports of political violence.

“These elections, we can safely say…(will) be the most violent the country has ever had," she said.

Jasmine Opperman says the rebellion in the north will make it almost impossible for that area to have a problem-free vote.

"To even talk, to even think about elections in this area is a joke," she said. "It is not, simply, going to happen. People are living in fear, for those who have been to Cabo Delgado, for those who have spoken and done interviews with the locals, you can taste the fear."

Observers also predict the Frelimo party will do anything to keep power it has held since 1975.

The party had its worst showing in local elections last year. It received just 51 percent of the vote.

"For the first time in 40 years since independence, Frelimo faces the real risk of losing," Machado said.

But Opperman says she fears a worse outcome. Renamo has repeatedly accused Frelimo of using government money to finance its campaign and of changing lists of voters.

"There is no way that they’re going to let go of power," she said. "And I think we must be clear on that."

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA’s Anita Powell reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

escalating – adj. increasing, growing or rising

indicator – n. a sign that shows the condition or existence of something

standard – n. a level of quality; a measure or model used for comparison

interview – n. a meeting of people face-to-face or by telephone

outcome – n. results or effects