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October 18, 2019 – Maputo – The U.S. Embassy congratulates the people of Mozambique on their nation’s sixth multiparty national election. Responding to the invitation extended by the Government of the Republic of Mozambique, and in coordination with other international election observation missions, the U.S. Embassy deployed 25 short term observation teams to observe the electoral process in every province throughout Mozambique. The U.S. Embassy stresses that this statement is preliminary in nature given that the tabulation and announcement of official results have not concluded. Additionally, the Embassy recognizes that, ultimately, it is the people of Mozambique who will determine the credibility of these elections. With the exception of some reported incidents, the election day voting process appeared to be conducted peacefully and in an orderly and secure environment. Our observation teams further found that polls generally opened on time and the majority of personnel operating the polling stations worked tirelessly to carry out the voting procedures set by the National Elections Commission.
While acknowledging these positive aspects, the U.S. Embassy has significant concerns regarding problems and irregularities that may impact perceptions of the integrity of the electoral process, beginning with the discrepancies that have been identified between the voter registration and census results in some areas, most notably in the provinces of Gaza and Zambezia. Several incidents of serious violence and intimidation, including the assassination of a civil society leader in the run-up to election day, were disturbing and may have contributed to public doubts about a safe and fair election environment. The inability of many reputable independent domestic observer organizations to obtain credentials also raised transparency concerns. Additionally, the late release of campaign funding placed smaller political parties at a significant disadvantage.
U.S. Embassy election observers witnessed a number of irregularities and vulnerabilities during the voting and the first stages of the tabulation process. For example, at numerous polling stations in Gaza our teams noted low turnout through mid-afternoon, but results sheets posted and visible by October 16 indicated close to 100% turnout – results that would have required, in the final hours of the day, a rate of voter processing of such extraordinary alacrity that it strains credulity. Our observers throughout the country noted the lack of rigor applied to the district-level tabulation process, in stark contrast to the structured and deliberate voting process which was generally observed at polling stations on election day. U.S. observers consistently reported the absence of any evident chain of custody for voting materials during the transfer from polling stations to district tabulation centers, making it difficult to confirm the integrity of vote tally documents. U.S. Embassy observers also reported disorganization and a lack of oversight in the tabulation process. They saw unsealed bags holding voting materials exposed and seemingly uncontrolled, with election officials handling voting materials without the presence of party representatives or independent domestic observers. These examples raise questions about the integrity of these procedures and their vulnerability to possible fraudulent acts.
The U.S. Embassy urges the full and fair application of established electoral laws and dispute processes and mechanisms to resolve grievances peacefully and in a manner that reinforces confidence in Mozambique’s democracy.
For more information about this press release, please contact the U.S. Embassy Maputo Press Office at MaputoPress@state.gov.