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Mozambicans vote in crucial national elections

Polls have opened across the southern African nation of Mozambique for presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections.

An estimated 13 million voters will be expected to take part in Today’s exercise, which is seen as a test of a recent peace deal between the governing Frelimo party and the main opposition Rennamo  movement.

Many observers do not expect a heavy turn-out, warning that insecurity might keep some voters from showing up.

Frelimo, which has governed since Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to be returned to power, with President Felipe Nyusi almost certain to win a second term.

 

Vote counting will start after polls close at 6pm local time (16:00 GMT) and is expected to continue through the night. Preliminary results are expected on Wednesday.

Tensions were high on elections eve amid fears the violence that marred the campaign may continue on polling day. 

While Mr. Nyusi is widely expected to win a second term, the main opposition Renamo is eyeing the opportunity for a strong performance in provincial and legislative races.

The polls also mark the first time provincial governors, previously appointed by the president, are elected in Mozambique.

According to the Centre for Public Integrity, forty-four people were killed during the election campaign – some in a stadium stampede at a pro-Nyusi rally, but seven were murdered. 

Analysts say the parties’ acceptance of the outcome of the vote is a key test of the ceasefire signed in August between the government and Renamo rebels, following a fifteen-year civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people.

After casting his vote on Tuesday morning, President Nyusi urged Mozambicans to avoid violence and maintain “total serenity, total calm”.

Mr. Nyusi’s appeal came barely a week after police acknowledged that several suspects in the murder of a prominent local election observer were police officers.

 

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