Mozambicans Vote Amid Desire for Change

Mozambicans Vote Amid Desire for ChangeMozambicans Vote Amid Desire for Change

Mozambicans started voting Wednesday in a tough electoral test for the ruling Frelimo, the party that has run the resource-rich country since independence in 1975.

Voters in neat lines started casting their ballots shortly after 7:00 am (0500 GMT) with Frelimo facing growing discontent amid an apparent popular swing towards the opposition, the AFP reported.

Twenty-seven parties and two coalitions are competing for the favor of 10.9 million registered voters in the presidential race, plus polls for national and provincial assemblies.

Analysts say the opposition is likely to make significant inroads, reducing the ruling party’s overwhelming majority of 75 percent garnered in the last vote.

Opposition ballots are likely to be split between the former rebel Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) and its breakaway Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).

 Desire for Change

The desire for change has been driven by a wealth gap that persists despite huge mineral resources, with fast economic growth sidestepping the bulk of a population that is among the world’s poorest.

Renamo, which has lost all elections since the end of the country’s 15-year civil war in 1992, has made a comeback, trying to spruce up its image after emerging from a low-level insurgency waged in the centre of the country just weeks ahead of the election.

At the same time the fledgling MDM, led by the mayor of the second largest city of Beira, is gaining popularity.

Formed five years ago, the MDM gained 38 percent of the urban vote in last December’s municipal elections.

Boats and helicopters were used to transport ballot boxes to remote areas of the vast country, where most people still live off subsistence farming.

The presidential race pits Frelimo’s Filipe Nyusi, the former defense minister who is making his first bid for the country’s top job, against Renamo’s veteran Afonso Dhlakama and MDM founder Daviz Simango.

If none of the three garners more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off will be held within 30 days after official final results.