Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mozambique: Hosting the World's Election Experts

The below article is a very interesting and pretty cool insight into the significance of the work that the Democratization Project is going to accomplish. To know that there are election experts in the country thinking and observing the same things that we are going to be observing is pretty neat.

Maputo — 24 long term election observers from the European Union on Sunday deployed to Mozambique's 11 provinces, where they will follow the current election campaign, the voting and the count.

Shortly before polling day, they will be joined by around 70 short term observers, plus representatives from EU member state diplomatic missions in Maputo. In all, the EU will have over 100 observers as Mozambicans vote. They come from 23 EU members plus Switzerland, Norway and Canada.

The head of the EU Observer Mission, Fiona Hall, who is a British member of the European Parliament, told a press conference that the mission had no intention of interfering in the elections, or of suggesting any changes or improvements while the election was under way.

"Our role is to collect and verify information about the electoral process", she said.

The mission will issue a preliminary statement of its initial findings two days after polling day and will publish a final report about two months later. Hall said the mission would analyse how far the elections "are in line with international standards, Mozambican legislation and best practices".

It would look at such issues as whether Mozambicans really enjoyed the right to vote and to be elected, whether the ballot was secret, and how the freedoms of expression, association and assembly were implemented.

The mission, she added, would distinguish between "complaints, rumours, accusations and verified fact". Its report would be based only on facts that had been verified.

Hall stressed that the Observer Mission is independent of all EU member states and of the European Commission and its delegation in Maputo. The mission would operate according to standard EU methodology for observing elections anywhere in the world.

Asked whether the EU would concentrate its observation on areas where there had been serious problems in the last election, in 2004, notably in Tete province (where a major fraud occurred, involving impossible 100 per cent turnouts in dozens of polling stations), Hall said the mission could not work like that.

The observers would be spread across the country, and Hall did not think it would make much sense to deploy observers "in accordance with what happened last time".

The mission has already met with the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE). Joao Leopoldo da Costa, and with two of three presidential candidates, the incumbent, and candidate for the ruling Frelimo Party, Armando Guebuza, and the mayor of Beira, and head of the Mozambique Democratic movement (MDM), Daviz Simango. They had met a representative of the third candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo.

Hall has observed elections in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, and was head of the EU Observer Mission in Togo.

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