MEP praises 'orderly elections' in Mozambique

Judith Sargentini has praised the election process in Mozambique, but was critical of the country's 'unbalanced' political campaigns.

By Jon Benton

Jon Benton is Political Engagement Manager at The Parliament Magazine

17 Nov 2014

The European parliament's chief observer of the Mozambique election Judith Sargentini has presented her report to MEPs. The EU has been involved in monitoring the elections in Mozambique since the end of the civil war in 1994, this being the fifth election to be monitored.

Sargentini began by saying that her time in Mozambique was as part of the electoral observation mission (EOM) that involved an EU team, as well as observers provided by various EU member state embassies. Their responsibility was to monitor the election day on October 15, as well as the political campaigns and media coverage.

"State institutions are politicised, state is the party and party is the state"

The election was largely fought by three political parties; the incumbent Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) and its breakaway party the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM).

Sargentini arrived three weeks prior to the election, meeting with various stakeholders and political parties in order to get a better understanding of the political situation in Mozambique. She noted that the mission had initially seemed unlikely to go ahead, saying, "With the lack of funds it looked like EU could not send a mission, but various embassies chipped in to help it go ahead".

However, Sargentini pointed out, "this was not a mission on a shoe-string budget… the mission cost €2.2m in total", with the chief observer keen to emphasise that the mission had the means to operate effectively.

FRELIMO won the election with 57 per cent of the vote, with Sargentini describing the ballot in her official statement two days after the announcement as, "orderly elections, with unbalanced campaigns".

Sargentini's criticism was that, while the elections were orderly, bar one or two incidents of violence, the campaigns in the build-up were innately unfair. This was due to what she described as "politicised institutions", arguing there was often no distinction between the FRELIMO and the state itself. Therefore, the ruling party had an unfair advantage over its opponents as it was able to mobilise state assets to finance its political campaign.

Sargentini also argued that the Mozambican authorities were unable to carry out the elections as effectively as hoped, with the process hindered in some areas due to several regions delaying or even blocking requests for election results by the EOM.

RENAMO and MDM also contested some of the results, but these only occurred days after the election was called, with each party also requesting annulments of several regions' decisions. Due to these contests, the final outcome of the election has not yet been given, and only after this has occurred will the chief observer be able to issue a final statement.

However, Sargentini praised the elections, saying, "the ruling party now has to share parliament and political power with the other parties".  In what is being viewed as a positive positive development in Mozambican democracy, despite FRELIMO again winning the election, the party will now have to share powers and responsibility more than ever, allowing other groups such as RENAMO and MDM the opportunity to help shape the political agenda in Mozambique.

Sargentini concluded by suggesting that there needs to be an evaluation of the political process within Mozambique in order to assess and tackle the overly politicised election system, saying, "because state institutions are politicised, state is the party and party is the state".

Read the most recent articles written by Jon Benton - MEPs condemn plans for European football super league