Joe Hanlon National Elections 15-16

24 April 2014
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Renamo military presence accepted to permit 9 registration posts to open and Dhlakama to register

Nine registration posts are opening in Gorongosa district under the protection of the Renamo military, with no Mozambican police presence, the National Elections Commission confirmed at a press conference this morning (Thursday 24). This follows an agreement last night between Renamo and the government, which will also permit the registration of Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama and of Renamo soldiers.

This also confirms the very usual position of Renamo, which is the main opposition party in parliament and is participating in the electoral process, while having an armed force which controls part of a district and will only allow registration if there are no government police present.

The nine registration posts in Gorongosa district, Sofala, had never opened because of on-going fighting between Renamo and the government. CNE spokesman Paulo Cuinica this morning said members of the National Elections Commission (in pairs of Renamo and Frelimo) are today going to Sofala to go with the registration teams, and that they would not be accompanied by members of the Mozambican police (PRM).

The nine registration brigades will be in Casa Banana, Vunduzi, Nhataca, Chionde, Tsikiri, Mussikazi, Piro and Mukodza. Cuinica also confirmed that the brigades would not stay overnight in these places, but would return to more secure areas each night.

Cuinica also confirmed that Renamo had made a request to delay the end of registration, now scheduled for Tuesday 29 April. Renamo alleges that there are regions where registration started late because of rains and others where there were constant breakdowns of equipment including generators and computers. Cuinca said that CNE and STAE had reinforced the capacity of brigades in problem locations and thus there was no need to an extension, but the request is being considered by the CNE. Any delay of more than a few days would create serious problems, because registration data is needed for subsequent processes, including party selection of candidates.

With just 6 days to go, registration under 78%

CNE announced this morning that 6,424,570 voters have been registered this year in Mozambique, 70.3% of the 9,143,923 unregistered voting age adults. Registration ends on Tuesday 29 April.

To this must be added the 3,059,804 voters registered last year for 2013 local elections, who need not register again. Thus total registration is 9,484,374, which is 77,7% of the estimated 12,203,727 people who will be over 18 years old on voting day, 15 October.

For the 2009 election, registration was over 90%.

AllAfrica: Government Rejects „Parity“ With Renamo in Army

Maputo — The Mozambican government on Wednesday reiterated that it will not grant the demand by the former rebel movement Renamo for “parity” in the armed forces and the police as a condition for disarming and demobilising the remaining units of Renamo gunmen.

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AllAfrica: Renamo Will Hand Over Weapons, but Not Demilitarise

Maputo — Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo has agreed to hand over its weapons to the government, and for its men to join the defence and security forces, but it still refuses to demilitarise and become a normal political party, according to Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse, the deputy head of the government delegation to the long running dialogue between the government and Renamo.

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Joe Hanlon 251: Talks deadlocked

15 April 2014
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Talks deadlocked again as Renamo demands „parity“ of police and army commanders

The 53rd round of talks Monday ended in deadlock, after Renamo said it would disarm only if all senior levels of the military and police had equal numbers of Frelimo and Renamo officers. The head of the Renamo negotiating team, Saimone Macuiane MP, said that the senior leadership of the army are all from the old People’s Liberation Army (Forcas Populares de Libertacao de Mocambique, FLPM) of more than 20 years ago, which was the army that fought Renamo, and that it was time to have equal number of Renamo officers. Renamo officers integrated into the army after the peace accord were turned in „advisors“, retired, or marginalised, leaving only the old FPLM in charge. And this must be reversed. „We don’t want our soldiers to just be cooks and ‚advisors‘ to Frelimo; we want them to be real military men in the army,“ Macuiane added.

Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, the head of the government negotiating team, dismissed the demand as an „aberration.“  (AIM 14 April) Noticias this morning (15 April) reports that Renamo demands that the head of the general staff (Chefe do Estado-Maior) of the army and commander of the police be named by Renamo, and only their deputies named by the government.

Although the two sides have agreed that there should be international monitors, there is no agreement on their role. The government says they should monitor the cease fire and the disarmament and demobilisation of Renamo fighters. Renamo wants them to monitor the entire reorganisation of the military and police.

The next round of talks is tomorrow, Wednesday. Meanwhile, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama must register to vote in the next two weeks if he expects to stand for President.

Joe Hanlon 250: Renamo can keep army

4 April 2014
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Renamo allowed to keep an army until after elections plus new attack in Tete
Demobilisation will be spread over 135 days and this can be extended, Renamo and the government agreed at talks on Friday. With no agreement yet on demobilisation, this ensures that Renamo will still have an armed military force after the 15 October presidential and parliamentary elections.

But as talks continue, the small war also continues. There was a Renamo attack on a police car in Tete on 2 April. (see below)

Renamo had wanted 180 days with possible extension, while government had pushed for a single 90 day period. It was agreed that observers would be asked to be in Mozambique 10 days after discussions end, but there is no date for that. The observer team will have 70 national and 23 international observers from Botswana (chair), Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cape Verde, Kenya, Italy, Portugal, Britain and the United States.

The head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, told reporters that „no agreement has been reached about the function and tasks of the observers. In our understanding, the observers, in addition to supervising and observing the ceasefire, also have the task of verifying and accompanying the implementation of the decisions we may take on the dialogue agenda point concerning the defence and security forces”. He made it clear that Renamo has no intention of starting to disarm. “Now we are solving the question concerning the ceasefire, and not disarmament”, he said. “We are dealing with a prior question to do with a ceasefire, and this does not annul point two on the agenda, which is on defence and security”. 
(AIM 5 April)

Other small war news

A group of Renamo guerrillas has been active in Tsangano, Tete since late March, particularly in the area of Moniqujeira, according to district administrator Ana Beressone. They have burned houses and stolen property, she said. On 2 April they attacked a police vehicle. One attacker was killed and two police people injured. (Noticias 5 April)  Unay Cambuma on his Facebook page, reprinted by Macua.blogs, claims there was a military confrontations between Renamo guerrillas and the army on Friday 4 April. Both reports are unconfirmed by other sources. Tsangano is a district on the Malawi border south of Angonia and north of Moatize districts. There have been reports since the start of the year about an armed Renamo group near Nkondedzi, Moatize district and Noticias reported that 2000 people had fled over the border to Malawi. (Noticias 26 February; News Reports & Clippings 239, 240)

Human Right League Head Alice Mabota says armed guerrillas represent her and have a right to armed action. Speaking on Thursday 3 April and quoted by @Verdade, she said the armed confrontation is the result of intransigence by the government. „Those who are in the bush … represent the anxiety of all persons who are not at war. They represent ‚my‘ interest, I would like to be included, I would like to pursue my political freely and am forbidden.“ Mabota is president of the Liga Mocambicana dos Direitos Humanos (LDH), and she continued: „There is political and economic exclusion in this country. Excluded people are not cattle or chickens; they know what they have to do.“ http://www.verdade.co.mz/destaques/democracia/45297

Renamo denies that it was responsible for the attack on the Vale coal train last week. And there is no confirmation of the CanalMoz claim of an attack on a second CFM train.

Four more civil society people have been named to the CNE, the National Elections Commission. The civil society representatives are chosen by parliament, and the choice was therefor political – one Frelimo, one MDM, and two Renamo. The new members are:
Jeremias Timana, general secretary of the National Confederation of Free and Independent Unions (CONSILMO), who sat on the CNE which organized the 2008 municipal and 2009 general elections. Supported by Frelimo.
Jose Belmiro, a prominent journalist working for the independent television station, STV, supported by the MDM.
Apolinario Joao, proposed by the Youth Association for Community and Development (a previously unknown NGO), supported by Renamo.
Salomao Moyana, one of the country’s best known journalists and is now director of Magazine Independent, supported by Renamo.
All MPs voted for Timana, but around 70 did not vote for the others. AIM says „These were clearly ballots cast by Frelimo deputies who could not stomach the thought of voting for people effectively nominated by Renamo. This was a silent revolt against the string of concessions which Frelimo and the government have been making to Renamo since the beginning of the year.“ (AIM 4 April)

Will Afonso Dhlakama register to vote by the end of the month? He must do so in order to stand for election as Renamo candidate for President. He has not appeared in public since the attack on Satunjira on 21 October last year.

Joe Hanlon: 249 Renamo attacks 2 trains

3 April 2014
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Renamo attacks two trains in Sofala

Renamo guerrillas shot at two trains on Tuesday night on the Sena/Maotize line, near Semacueza, 30 km north of Dondo, on the railway between Muanza and Dondo, Sofala. The driver of a Vale train was shot in the leg and is out of hospital, but the driver of the CFM train was seriously injured, according to CanalMoz this morning (https://www.facebook.com/CanalMoz)

Notîcias today also reports that Renamo has been blocking the railway with logs in that area, and that the Vale train had stopped behind the barricade. After the driver was shot, local people removed the logs and a driver was able to take the train to Dondo.

This is a major escalation by Renamo, and is the first attack on the railway which carries coal from Tete to Beria port. There were two attacks in this area last year, on a police post at Samacueza railway station on 12 October and on the Savane arms store in June. This is a heavily wooded and sparsely populated area, making it excellent guerrilla territory. During the 1981-92 war Renamo repeatedly attacked the railway in this area, eventually closing it by forcing local people to tear up many kilometres of railway track by hand.

Vice minister of the Interior, Jose Mandra, and Vale both issued press statements yesterday reporting the attack on the Vale train. So far only CanalMoz has reported the second attack, but it is normally well informed on the small war in Sofala. Renamo denies that it is responsible for the attacks.

Comment: Demobilisation, elections, and observation

Renamo appears to want to delay disarmament/demobilisation until after the election. What will happen if Renamo comes third, after Frelimo and MDM, which is now quite possible? Will it refuse to demobilise? Will the threat of armed men, combined with the significant increase in Renamo presence in the National Elections Commission and in STAE at all levels, mean pressure for political deals to increase the vote for Renamo? It would be in the joint interests of Frelimo and Renamo to marginalise the up-start MDM.

The local elections showed that most fraud occurs at the polling stations, which makes observation, particularly during the count, the single biggest check. But Gurue also showed the level of manipulation that can be done by district and provincial election commissions and STAE. That was caught because of the parallel count (PVT) done by the Electoral Observatory and EISA. Thus observation and a parallel count will be central in preventing electoral authorities from bending to political pressure.

The Electoral Observatory has not observed voter registration so far, because of disagreements between its leadership and some of its donors. If these disagreements are not resolved soon, they will jeopardise the OE’s ability to observe the remaining phases of the electoral process. The OE is a coalition of NGOs, mainly religious groups, which have strong organisation at local level. Thus the OE the only organisation in Mozambique with the experience, knowledge and ability to recruit observers necessary to carry out a solid observation in a national election. Any attempt to undermine the OE to promote an alternative organisation to carry out nation-wide observation would be a severe blow to the efforts to detect and deter electoral fraud and malpractices.

Does the international community want observation of the election and a good parallel count? Or do they want to avoid a parallel count this year so that the electoral administration is be able to bend to Renamo pressure?   jh

Joe Hanlon 248: Foreign observers

2 April 2014
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Government accepts foreign observers – but fighting continues & no progress today
Non-SADC observers will be included in the monitoring of the any cease fire and demobilisation, the government conceded Monday. Government and Renamo negotiators agreed the creation of a “central command” which will work to guarantee the cessation of hostilities between Renamo and the Mozambican military, the demobilisation of Renamo forces, and their reintegration into the Mozambican army, secret service (SISE) and police.

This command will be headed by a brigadier from Botswana, assisted by representatives of Italy and Zimbabwe. It will consist of 70 Mozambican observers (half chosen by government and half by Renamo) and 23 foreign ones (from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Cape Verge, Kenya, Portugal, Italy, the UK and the USA). They will be distributed in units in Sofala, Tete, Nampula and Inhambane provinces. (O Pais, 1 April and other media)

But further negotiations today failed to resolve the timing and modalities of the command. Government insists that the process should only last 90 days, while Renamo wants a minimum of 180 days with the potential to extend to one year. This has not been spelled out in detail, but Renamo clearly wants observers to stay long enough to ensure that Renamo fighters really are integrated into the police and military. In his press conference after the meeting today, Agriculture Minister and government delegation head Jose Pacheco, stressed that observers were only there for the „beginning of the process of social and economic reintegration of demilitarised Renamo men.“ Pacheco added that government would pay the local expenses of all foreign observers. (AIM 2 April)

Meanwhile fighting continues between government and Renamo forces in the areas around the Gorongosa mountain. In a press conference Monday, the Ministry of Defence said there were several attacks a day, and on a single day there had been 12 confrontations. The Ministry also said that two community leaders had been kidnapped by Renamo, one on 13 February, and another on 3 March. (AIM 31 March, O Pais 1 April)

Brigadier Jeronimo Malagueta, head of Renamo’s Information Department, was released on bail on 28 March, after having been held since 21 June last year. He was arrested after he announced at a press conference that Renamo would block the north-south N1 road. MediaFax says a condition of his bail is that he not speak to the press.