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Mozambique heads into election, new party protests

Mozambique heads into election, new party protests

Mozambique's ruling party faced questions Tuesday about its commitment to democracy on the eve of the country's general elections, with a presidential candidate saying the elections commission is being used to squash his new party's chances of winning parliamentary seats.
Daviz Simango was allowed on the presidential ballot, but his nine-month-old Mozambique Democratic Party was excluded from running in nine of the 13 parliamentary regions also being contested on Wednesday. He accuses Frelimo, the party that has won every vote since Mozambique's first multiparty election in 1994, of using the National Elections Commission to crush an emerging rival party.
The elections commission says there were problems with the party's filing papers. Simango denies the documents were flawed.
"They don't want us to stand in all the constituencies for fear we will win," Simango declared on the campaign trail.
With charges and countercharges flying, the elections commission held a meeting of foreign diplomats last month to assure the international community that democracy is not threatened in this African nation and that it is not taking orders from Frelimo.
Simango's party went to Mozambique's Constitutional Council, which has the final word on electoral disputes, to fight the election commission's decision but the council rejected the appeal.
"We have to accept what is decided by those who rule this country," MDM spokesman Jose Manuel Sousa told The Associated Press on Tuesday, bitterly underscoring the party's belief that the elections commissions is doing Frelimo's bidding.
Simango, a 43-year-old engineer who was mayor in Mozambique's second city of Beira, in central Mozambique, accuses the government of developing the southern region where the party had its power base during the 1975-1992 civil war and where the capital is located. He said the government is neglecting the rest of the country, which lies along the southeastern edge of Africa along the Indian Ocean.
"We want to change this scenario," says Simango, whose party's slogan is: "Mozambique for all."
After winning independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique fell into a devastating war between Frelimo, which was then a Marxist guerrilla group, and Renamo, which was backed by neighboring South Africa's apartheid government. Frelimo is a Portuguese acronym for the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique while Renamo is an acronym for Mozambique National Resistance.
Since a U.N.-brokered peace accord ended the war, Mozambique has been admired for its political stability, economic recovery and post-conflict reconstruction.
President Armando Guebuza is expected to ride this popularity to re-election on Wednesday. His main rival is Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo.
Economic reforms instituted by Frelimo, which years ago jettisoned Marxism and embraced free-market capitalism, have delivered growth rates as high as 10 percent per year, making it the world's fastest-growing economy at one point, even though much of the country still lives in poverty.
GDP grew by 7 percent in the first six months of 2009 but the effects of the global financial crisis are starting to show. Mozambican exports fell from $543 million in 2008 to $348 million this year. Officials said a collapse in the price of aluminum is to blame.
Dhlakama, 56, says he won't seek the presidency again if he's defeated again this time.
Nineteen parties are taking part in Wednesday's presidential, parliamentary and provincial assemblies elections. Results are expected Nov. 1.


Updated : 2021-06-18 11:09 GMT+08:00