MAPUTO, Mozambique– Protests in Mozambique over disputed local election results led to the deaths of a police officer and a civilian on Friday, a corruption monitoring group said. Police reported a total of 70 arrests in four cities, but no deaths.
The unrest followed Thursday’s official validation of the election results, which gave victory to the ruling Frelimo party in 64 of 65 municipalities. A consortium of election observers had reported widespread ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and falsification of results in favor of Frelimo in the October 11 elections.
Protesters barricaded streets during the demonstrations, which were concentrated in Mozambique’s capital Maputo and the northern towns of Nampula and Nacala.
In Maputo, the main opposition party, Renamo, led its supporters in a march. Other groups of protesters blocked main avenues with piles of burning tires and trash. Riot police and plainclothes officers dispersed the crowd with tear gas and AK-47 blasts into the air.
The policeman was killed in Nampula and the civilian in Nacala, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Mozambican anti-corruption organization. At least two other people in Nampula were seriously injured by tear gas canisters, including a 6-year-old child, local television station TV Sucesso reported.
Police spokesman Orlando Mudomane said 60 people were arrested in Nampula, four in Maputo and the rest in Nacala and the central town of Quelimane. Police were seen arresting several people inside the headquarters of Renamo’s Maputo branch.
Mudomane said 10 people were injured during Friday’s protests, but he did not confirm any deaths.
Peaceful protests led by Renamo have taken place in the southern African country of 32 million people since the elections. The results reduced the number of municipalities under Renamo control from eight to zero.
A parallel vote count by the consortium of election observers concluded that Renamo defeated Frelimo in the main towns of Quelimane, Nampula, Matola and Maputo. This would have allowed an opposition party to control the capital for the first time since Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975.
Frelimo and Renamo fought a bloody civil war between 1977 and 1992, during which more than a million people died. Following a peace agreement, Mozambique held its first democratic elections in 1994.
A dispute over the results of the 2014 general election led to more hostility between the parties and a new peace agreement was signed in 2019.
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