Opposition vote appeal rejected in Mozambique

Mozambique's constitutional council has rejected an appeal by the country's leading opposition party that sought to throw out the results of October elections.

Renamo, the southern African country's main opposition movement since the start of multiparty democracy in 1994, disputes the result of the October 28 general elections, which it lost to ruling party Frelimo by an official count of 75 percent to 18 percent.

Renamo said that the vote was rife with "electoral crime", and last month asked Mozambique's highest constitutional authority to annul the result.

But Geraldo Saranga, secretary general of the constitutional council, told state media that there was "a lack of legal arguments that can support Renamo's case".

On Monday, Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga said: "We don't agree with the constitutional council's conclusion.

"In fact, we think the country needs an electoral law that preserves multiparty democracy (so that) those who win at the ballot box can actually govern."

Mazanga said Renamo might organise a nationwide demonstration to protest against the council's decision.

The October vote saw the incumbent president, Armando Guebuza, win re-election to a new five-year term with 75 percent of the vote. Long-time Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama claimed just 16 percent.

Frelimo also took 191 seats in Mozambique's 250-seat parliament, giving it more than the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution.

Renamo has alleged electoral fraud in the wake of each of Mozambique's four national elections since the end of the country's 16-year civil war in 1992.

The party said Frelimo, in power since independence in 1975, had stuffed ballot boxes, invalidated opposition votes and improperly used its control of the government to further party interests.

International observers have largely praised the October vote as fair, although the European Union and the Commonwealth criticised election officials for a lack of transparency. - AFP

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