Country Risk

Electoral fraud accusations by Mozambique’s opposition RENAMO unlikely to lead to return to civil war

17 October 2018

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi casts his ballot at a Maputo polling station during local elections on 10 October. RENAMO has accused FRELIMO of falsifying results. Source: Mauro Vombe/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Electoral disputes are likely to be contested politically and legally, including with threats to pull out of peace negotiations, but are unlikely to lead to a resumption of fighting between RENAMO and government forces.
  • A final peace agreement between RENAMO and FRELIMO is likely prior to the general election in October 2019.
  • Oil and gas and mining companies operating in RENAMO-controlled municipalities are likely to face new local taxes as RENAMO will seek to generate new sources of revenue.


Ossufo Momade, interim party leader of Mozambique’s armed opposition RENAMO, on 14 October accused the governing party of falsifying the results of the 10 October local elections, saying his party did not want war, but would not accept any attempt to change the popular will.

Momade was reacting to partial results of the local elections from one-third of Mozambique’s 53 municipalities released by the National Electoral Commission (Comissão Nacional de Eleições: CNE), which gave the ruling Mozambican Liberation Front (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique: FRELIMO) party a clear lead. However, the results also reported wins for the Mozambican National Resistance (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana: RENAMO) in its northern and central heartlands in the cities of Quelimane, Nampula, and Alto Molocue. It remains unclear when full official results will be published, though it is very likely that RENAMO will more than double the number of municipalities it currently controls, which stands at four.

It is the first time in 10 years that RENAMO has taken part in local elections, having boycotted the previous polls in 2013. RENAMO’s participation was only made possible following peace negotiations and an agreement between the FRELIMO government under President Filipe Nyusi and RENAMO, negotiations which have been ongoing since 2016. These negotiations have led to the current ceasefire, an agreement on the decentralisation of power to local and regional authorities, and an agreement on the integration of RENAMO forces into the national army and other security agencies, which is still to be carried out.

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