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Cablegate: Rescheduling Propvincial Elections: Bipartisan

VZCZCXRO6452
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0166 0561421
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251421Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8600
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0123

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000166

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MZ
SUBJECT: RESCHEDULING PROPVINCIAL ELECTIONS: BIPARTISAN
SUCCESS

REF: 07 MAPUTO 899

1. SUMMARY: Mozambique's first provincial elections have been
postponed; a new date has not yet been set but elections may
be held in conjunction with national Presidential and
Assembly elections in November 2009. In a show of pragmatic
cooperation, ruling party FRELIMO and the major opposition
coalition led by RENAMO worked together to postpone the date
of the elections and are jointly monitoring the renewed
national voter registration efforts. The demonstrated
ability of RENAMO and FRELIMO to work together in the
National Assembly, a rare occurrence, is a positive step.
END SUMMARY.

------------------------------------
PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS TWICE POSTPONED
------------------------------------

2. Mozambique was scheduled to hold three national
elections in three consecutive years - provincial in December
2007, municipal in November 2008 and national (President and
Assembly) in November 2009. The provincial elections were
initially scheduled for December 20, 2007, coinciding with
the Muslim holy day Eid (reftel). President Guebuza, stating
that he did not wish to disenfranchise the significant Muslim
population of Mozambique, postponed the vote to January 16,
the last possible date that conformed to Mozambique's
constitutional requirements on elections.

3. Since January is the middle of the rainy season and many
roads become impassable due to flooding, leaders from both
parties raised concerns about access to polling places and
slower-than-expected national voter registration. In
December, the Assembly of the Republic (AR) exercised its
constitutional authority and postponed the provincial vote to
no later than the end of 2009. This action proved prescient
when flooding and heavy rainfall in January made access to
many parts of the country nearly impossible.

--------------------------------------------- -
PROVINCIAL ELECTION MAY BE COMBINED WITH OTHER ELECTIONS
--------------------------------------------- -

4. Political observers told Poloff that FRELIMO and RENAMO
have different preferences for the new date of the provincial
elections: FRELIMO favors combining the provincial and
national elections as its constituents are more likely to
turn out to vote in the national election while RENAMO
prefers a combination of provincial and municipal elections,
reflecting its belief that its power base lies in the
countryside, where people are more likely to vote when local
candidates are also to be chosen. The President, acting on
the advice of the independent electoral commission (CNE),
will determine and announce the date of the provincial
election later this year.

--------------------------------
COMMENT: BIPARTISANSHIP RETURNS?
--------------------------------

5. COMMENT: Since President Guebuza, who is also the leader
of the FRELIMO party, will decide when to hold the provincial
elections, it is most likely that the provincial and national
elections will be combined and held in November 2009.
Publicly the President may, with some justification, point to
the need for sufficient time for preparations. Nonetheless,
the cooperation exhibited by FRELIMO and RENAMO in
rescheduling the election and jointly overseeing voter
registration is encouraging. Although FRELIMO controls the
national government and most of the local governments, the
party does not have enough of a majority in the AR to
constitutionally reschedule the election without cooperation
from RENAMO. This positive experience in mutual cooperation
could be a template for future political solutions to
differences between the parties. END COMMENT.
Chapman

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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