Mozambique: Treading a New Path Pre-Election Assessment

Publication Date: 
30 Sep 1992

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INTRODUCTION

Mozambique has been racked by civil war since 1976, only one year after its independence from Portugal. Independence itself followed more than a decade of armed liberation struggle led by FRELIMO (Frente de Libertacao de Mocambique). FRELIMO has been the ruling party since 1975. The insurgency led by RENAMO (Resistencia Nacional de Mocambique) has inflicted a bloody civil war on the country. Besides the many deaths caused by the war, millions of Mozambican have become refugees or displaced persons, and effective governmental control from the capital in Maputo reaches only a portion of the countryside.

Since 1990, the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO have engaged in peace negotiations in Rome, with the mediation of the Catholic Church. The slow progress of the negotiations finally resulted in a breakthrough in March 1992, when the contending sides signed Protocol III which, among other things, outlined agreements on election procedures to install a new government following the completion of a ceasefire and peace agreement.  Protocol III specifies that multi-party elections, involving all newly registered political parties in addition to RENAMO and FRELIMO, will take place within one year after the signing of the ceasefire.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) was first contacted in 1990 by officials of the Government of Mozambique who requested information on electoral laws from other countries, which IFES supplied. More recently, IFES has been in discussion with the U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID) mission in Maputo since late 1991 regarding eventual assistance from IFES to the government of Mozambique in its preparations for multi-party elections. After the signing of Protocol III in March 1992, USAID in Maputo, in consultation with the government, formally requested that IFES send a pre-election assessment team to carry out a survey of the status of election preparations in Mozambique.

IFES responded to the request from the USAID by assembling a team of election experts to prepare a pre-election assessment report. The IFES team arrived in Mozambique on June 28, 1992 for a three week stay. It was comprised of David Fleischer, professor of political science at University of Brasilia, Brazil, and specialist in Brazilian electoral systems; Juan Rial, a political analyst from Uruguay; and Wade Channell, an attorney with Cameron & Hornbostel, specializing in international business matters.

The purpose of the pre-election assessment was to undertake a detailed review of the country's election planning capacity and additional requirements necessary for holding a free and fair election. Topics to be covered in the assessment include:

         Procedures for registering election candidates and approving candidates to be placed on election ballots;

         Establishment of voter identification procedures and establishment and maintenance of the voter registry;

         Ballot design and security;

         Distribution, collection and security of ballots;

         Criteria for the selection and location of polling stations;

         Civic education and motivation;

         Required training and materials (including necessary translation into local languages) for election officials at the central and provincial levels;

         Election commodities and equipment needs, including to the extent available, detailed cost information and specifications; and

         The general role and function of election observers.

The findings and recommendations of the IFES team are contained in this assessment report and reflect the meetings and discussions conducted by the team while in Mozambique during the period of July 2 - 21, 1992. The team's preparations for this assessment included the review of extensive briefing materials prepared by IFES prior to the team's departure. The team was also briefed in Washington by the Mozambican Ambassador to the U.S., officials at the Department of State, U.S.A.I.D. and the World Bank.

During its three weeks in Mozambique, the IFES team met with the coordinators of the Interministerial Election Commission, the President of the National Assembly and many other officials of the Mozambique government. In addition, the team met with leaders of most of the opposition political parties, church leaders, journalists, NGO leaders, and representatives of potential donor countries. Each member of the team also traveled for two days to provincial capitals outside of Maputo (and, in the case of Wade Channell, to Mozambican refugee camps in Swaziland). In all cases, people gave generously of their time and their knowledge of the political and electoral system in Mozambique.   

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