Mozambique president and ruling party get overwhelming win

FILE - In this file Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 file photo, Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi poses at a polling station where he cast his vote in Maputo. Nyusi and his ruling Frelimo party have been re-elected in the nation's parliament, according to official results announced Sunday following elections on October 15. (AP Photo/Ferhat Momade/File)

MAPUTO, Mozambique — Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi has been re-elected with 73% of the vote and his Frelimo party will have 74% of seats in parliament, according to official results announced Sunday following elections on Oct. 15.

The main opposition party, Renamo, has rejected the results, alleging the elections were marked by fraud and intimidation.

After drawing enthusiastic crowds during the campaign, Renamo candidate Ossufo Momade took 22% of the vote, according to Mozambique's electoral commission, which reported an overall voter turnout of 51%.

In the 250-seat National Assembly, Frelimo won 184 seats, Renamo 60 seats and the MDM party got six seats.

Renamo failed to win a single province in a vote where provincial governors were directly elected for the first time.

Frelimo will continue to govern all 10 provinces which elected provincial assemblies. One province, Maputo city, did not elect a provincial assembly to avoid duplicating the municipal government, which is also run by Frelimo.

The result leaves Frelimo "stronger than ever," said businessman and activist Erik Charas, who founded the independent newspaper A Verdade.

"A third term is possible," despite the constitution limiting the president to two terms, Charas said. A two-thirds majority in parliament would allow Frelimo to change the constitution without needing the agreement of the opposition.

Opposition parties, including the third largest party, the MDM, boycotted the announcement of the results. Renamo's Momade last week called on Mozambicans not to respect the result.

International observers raised concerns about the credibility of the results. The United States Embassy said its observers "witnessed a number of irregularities and vulnerabilities during the voting and the first stages of the tabulation process."

Some results in Gaza province, where the election authorities registered 300,000 more voters than a recent census said lived in the province, "strained credulity," according to the U.S. statement.

An observer mission sent by the European Union said the elections were conducted in a "climate of fear," which was made worse when a leading Mozambican observer was killed in Gaza province a week before the poll and police were arrested for the killing. A top Renamo official and her husband were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Tete province a day before the vote.

The EU mission said the campaign occurred on "an unlevel playing field" where "the ruling party ... benefited from the advantages of incumbency, including unjustified use of state resources," forcing civil servants and teachers to participate in campaign activities.

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