MAPUTO – Mozambicans began voting in presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections on Tuesday amid fears of insurgency in the southern African country.
Almost 13 million people are eligible to cast their ballots until 6 pm, although observers believe that insecurity in the country’s northern part could leave thousands unable to vote.
Security has been reinforced in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado, where an armed Islamist group locally known as al-Shabaab has been threatening civilians for two years.
The extremists, who are separate from the Somali al-Shabaab, have beheaded civilians, ambushed police officers and burnt houses leaving over 300 killed and thousands of others displaced.
Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi, of the Frelimo party, has cast his ballot along with his wife at Josina Machel High School in the capital Maputo at 7 am.
Nyusi who is running for a second term in office told all Mozambicans that it was important to have peaceful and orderly elections, adding that thousands of observers from the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa had been deployed to observe the election campaign.
These elections come only two months after Nyusi and Ossufo Momade from the main opposition Renamo signed a new peace agreement, the third since the end of the 1977-92 civil war that left one million people dead.
Momade, who is running for president for the first time, managed to vote at 8.45 am after security forces intervened to calm hundreds of angry voters.
Momade urged Mozambicans not to be intimidated by the military deployment across various parts of the country, saying it was a democratic process and that people were the ones who had the power.
“If the results were manipulated we could never accept it, and we will be willing to do whatever the people ask us to do,” Momade said.