Polls close in Mozambique amid ballot-stuffing complaints

Voting has officially ended in Mozambique’s general elections but people who joined queues at polling stations before the cut-off time of 18:00 (16:00 GMT) will be allowed to cast their ballot.

Seven polling stations did not open in an area of the country that has suffered militant Islamist attacks in recent years – three fewer than expected – said the body in charge of voter registration and the voting process, STAE.

It had also denied reports of ballot-stuffing made by the the two main opposition parties, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), plus four smaller groups.

But when reporters insisted, pointing out that photos of the supposedly fraudulent ballot papers have gone around the world via the internet and thus threaten the international credibility of the elections, STAE’s director Felisberto Naife admitted it was a serious problem.

He said there should be a through investigation of these cases, starting with ascertaining whether the extra ballot papers are authentic.

Electoral observers were deployed from the Southern African Development Community(Sadc), the EU and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa. The first two applauded the government earlier on Tuesday for its efforts to maintain peace and organise secure elections.

However it is unclear if all monitors were able to secure accreditation in time – a researcher for campaign group Human Rights Watch tweeted on Monday that over 3,000 election observers were still waiting for the necessary paperwork

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