MAPUTO– Unofficial results show that the candidate of the rebel movement Renamo, Paulo Vahanle, has won the second round of the mayoral by-election in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula.

According to observer groups, the results from 360 of the 401 polling stations, showed Vahanle taking almost 60 per cent of the vote, against just over 40 per cent for his rival, Amisse Cololo of the ruling Frelimo Party. It is quite impossible for Cololo to close that gap with results from the remaining 41 polling stations.

The results from the 360 polling stations were reported by the independent news sheet Mediafax, as follows:

Paulo Vahanle (Renamo) 49,928 (59.08 per cent)

Amisse Cololo (Frelimo) 34,580 (40.92 per cent)

There were 448 blank ballots and 651 invalid votes.

In the first round, held on Jan 24, Cololo won 32,042 votes (44.51 per cent), while Vahanle took 29,029 (40.32 per cent). The rest of the votes were distributed among three other candidates. Since no candidate won more than 50 per cent of the vote, a second round was necessary under the law.

The country’s second biggest opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which won 10.1 of the vote in January, threw its weight behind Vahanle and campaigned for him in the second round.

On Wednesday there was a significantly higher turnout than in January with about 32.8 per cent of the 296,590 registered voters casting ballots, compared with only 24.9 per cent on Jan 24. This increase clearly benefitted Vahanle as most of those who voted this time but not in January chose Vahanle.