Mozambique (ASM/MNN) — Preliminary results show Mozambique’s ruling party leading in municipal elections after the main opposition group boycotted the polls. Tensions rising before the voting continued to simmer.
Three days after annulling the election for Nampula’s mayor, Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) also annulled the election of the members of the municipal assembly. New elections are slated for December 1. Those weren’t the only irregularities noted.
Chad VandenBosch with Audio Scripture Ministries lives and works in Xai Xai, Mozambique. In an e-mail to the home office, he noted the goings on with some resignation. “Well, last week was the week that many people around here were dreading. Municipal elections (mayor and city councils) took place last week Wednesday. There had been many threats of violence to disrupt the elections, but on Tuesday, the major opposition party–who was boycotting the elections anyway–said that they wouldn’t try to disrupt the elections because they weren’t valid anyway since that party wasn’t involved.”
Aside from some isolated incidents, the elections were quiet. However, VandenBosch notes, “Unfortunately it appears that the elections were not free and fair. There have been lots of accusations and lots of evidence to point to mass electoral fraud by the current ruling party.” Electoral observers were prevented from entering polling stations in some areas, and in others, they were detained when they pointed out obvious fraud.
When these reports surfaced, instead of calm after the elections, anger over fraud added to the hostility. Worse, VandenBosch adds, “The main opposition party, who boycotted the elections, is still making attacks along the main roads. On top of this, now the third-biggest political party, who probably realistically won a decent number of the mayoral elections, is up in arms because of the fraud which robbed them of their victories.” Since the early results were posted, mass demonstrations have been the norm. Government forces quelled these using tear gas and live ammunition.
VandenBosch says their ministry team seems to be sitting in the middle of trouble again. “In Chimoio, the official results have the current ruling party winning with just over 50% of the vote. The third party claims that they had observers at every polling station, and when they calculated up the results from each individual polling station, they had 52% of the vote. So now they are up in arms.”
Disgruntled candidates angered over the results indicate they won’t shy away from violence. “We aren’t really sure what this means,” says VandenBosch, “but it sounds a bit ominous to us…. [There is] an unusually large number of federal forces gathered in town. We pray that level heads prevail.”
Despite the rumblings of trouble, the ASM team is preparing more equipment and figuring out a distribution/recording plan throughout Mozambique for next year. Plans are moving ahead to submit the paperwork to finalize studio registration amidst finalizing plans for an audio Bible distribution south of Maputo, the capital city, this coming weekend.
Please continue to pray for wisdom and safety for this team. Pray, too, for open hearts to the Gospel.