SADC calls for transparent Mozambique elections

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has said it is calling for a transparent vote in Mozambique's scheduled October 28 general elections. The SADC made the call shortly after dispatching the first group of electoral observers all across Mozambique's provinces.

The observer mission is expected to issue its preliminary report three to five days after the electoral commission releases results. The SADC is expected to send about 120 observers to monitor the election, but so far only 38 are currently working in Mozambique.

"We hope that a legitimate winner emerges from the elections, who has a mandate to govern. We appeal to all Mozambicans to respect the law, and to Mozambique, as a member of SADC, to obey the SADC governance principles," Joao Caholo, the SADC deputy executive secretary, said.

He also announced that the SADC is planning to dispatch teams to the provinces to observe the election in its final stages, all the way up to the day the polls will be held. Caholo stressed that "only the facts verified on the ground, and not just what is said to us, will determine the opinion of the observers."

Felizeberto Nice, director general of the technical secretariat of Mozambique's National Electoral Commission, said that the electoral body is working closely with the SADC observer mission to ensure a peaceful election. "Right now we are just finalizing the last step of our preparation regarding the election [on the] 28th of October. So what we can say is that we have managed to allocate all the voter materials to the capital of the province," Nice said.

He said the electoral body is determined to ensure a credible election. "Right now we are just doing everything according to the law in order to have a kind of [good election]," he said. Nice added electoral officials have been fully trained ahead of the vote, saying that "we have trained very well our staff, including the code of conduct, including all the procedures that they have to do during the election."

Nice expressed confidence the election would be credible. "We think that we are prepared to run this election," he said, denying opposing accusations that previous elections were skewed in favor of the ruling party. What the electoral commission always [does] is that it works according to all procedures, and working with all political parties, and after all the electoral process, we manage to get everything in terms of suggestions, in terms of recommendations, even coming from political parties (and) electoral observers."

According to Nice, electoral body has had success coordinating with local and international observers ahead of the vote. "The electoral commission [...] now is busy working with the different observer missions, Mozambique's election is on October 28 including SADC. And we are working closely with SADC, with the European Union, and I think there is a good relation between the electoral commission and the mission observers."

The SADC is to have 120 observers by the time the elections are held. 38 observers had arrived from Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia, with others from South Africa and Zimbabwe also anticipated to attend. The only country within the SADC that is barred from having observers in the polls is Madagascar, which was placed under SADC sanctions after the regional body condemned President Andry Rajoelina's ascension to power, which it claimed was a coup d'état.