Mozambique: Election Observers Intimidated and Threatened

Maputo — Reports from four northern Mozambican districts indicate that local directors of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) are attempting to prevent independent observation of the current voter registration.

The anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) says that in Ribaue and Larde (in Nampula province), and in Mecufi and Ancuabe (in Cabo Delgado), STAE directors are refusing to allow CIP correspondents to observe the registration, even though they have been duly accredited by the Provincial Elections Commissions (CPEs).

Observers are accredited by the CPEs, and given a badge (“cracha’ in Portuguese) which serves as a credential for visiting all registration posts in a particular province.

But some STAE directors are now demanding a different credential, issued at district level. There is no justification for this demand in Mozambique’s electoral legislation.

In Mecufi the STAE director told the CIP correspondents that the badges issued by the CPE are “not enough’ to observe voter registration. They need to add another, hitherto unknown. type of credential.

The district STAE has ordered all the registration post supervisors in the district to inform the police immediately so that they arrest, and take to the district police command, any observer who goes to a registration post armed only with the badge issued by the provincial STAE.

This, CIP remarked in one of its regular bulletins on the elections, sends “a very strong message that the electoral management bodies in Mecufi district do not want the registration to be observed’.

It was much the same in Ancuabe. Last week a CIP correspondent was detained at a police post in this district and held for over 11 hours.

He had a badge issued by the CPE, but the police claimed it had been forged, and he could not observe without one of the non-existent district credentials.

When he was detained, the police confiscated his cell phones, so that he was unable to communicate. According to the CIP account of the incident, when the observer was released, the police warned him “If you come back to work without a credential again, you will end up in prison for ever’.

In Larde, in Nampula, the district STAE director also refused to acknowledge the validity of the CPE badge. The CIP correspondents were told to stop their observation, or face “consequences’.

In Inhassoro district, in the southern province of Inhambane, there is so far no ban on observation – but CIP says its correspondents are accused of being “spies’ and have been threatened with arrest.

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