MAPUTO– Afonso Dhlakama, the leader of Mozambique’s rebel movement, Renamo, which is also the country’s main opposition party, has threatened to end negotiations with the government because of alleged fraud committed by the ruling Frelimo Party in Wednesday’s second round of the mayoral by-election in the northern city of Nampula.

Interviewed by telephone by the independent television station, STV, Dhlakama claimed Wednesday that Frelimo was bussing in supporters from all over the country to vote in Nampula. He said these fake voters came, not only from other districts in Nampula province, but from as far as Niassa province in the far north and from Maputo in the far south (Maputo is 1,400 kilometres from Nampula).

Dhlakama said this supposed fraud undermined the talks between the government and Renamo. He threatened to end the talks, renege on agreements already reached and to go back to square one.

He said he had believed that President Filipe Nyusi was better than his predecessors, Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza, but now Nyusi had disappointed him. He menaced that, if something was not done to stop the alleged Nampula fraud, he would organize a revolution of the entire people to remove Frelimo from power.

However, an election observer in Nampula with long experience of Mozambican elections said that so far only one person not entitled to vote had tried to do so. This was a woman with a voter card issued in the port city of Nacala.

When she tried to vote at a Nampula polling station, not only did the staff refuse to give her a ballot paper, but she was turned over to the police who arrested her.

At another polling station a minibus full of people arrived. Although this aroused suspicions, it turned out that they all had valid Nampula voter cards and were all properly registered as Nampula voters. They were therefore allowed to vote.

Furthermore, Renamo is present at all the 401 polling stations, and so can prevent any attempt at fraud. Just as in the first round, Renamo has two monitors for each station. Even more important, Renamo is directly represented on the polling station staff � at each station there are seven staff, and the political parties (Renamo, Frelimo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM) each appoint a member. So in all Renamo has over 1,200 people at the Nampula polling stations.

So far, none of them seem to have made any protest. The director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), Felisberto Naife, said he had received no complaint from any Nampula polling station about people being bussed in from outside the municipality to vote.