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Mozambique Elections: Center Observers Continue Monitoring Process

Late into the night on Dec. 1, Carter Center observers were phoning in their observations from provinces outside of Maputo, as Mozambicans prepared for a second day of voting. The polls will close at 6 p.m., and ballot counting is expected to continue through Dec. 3.

Earlier this week, the Carter Center´s delegation of 60 observers, lead by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and former Benin President Nicephore Soglo, deployed throughout the country. As observers traveled to their assigned provinces, the delegation´s leadership, along with Dr. David Pottie of the Center´s Democracy Program and Carter Center Field Representative Nicolas Bravo, met in Maputo with the candidates, outgoing President Joaquim Chissano, and the National Elections Commission.

As Mozambique enters a second day of presidential elections, the southeast African country faces serious challenges in its efforts to deepen democracy, despite remarkable progress since its independence in 1975 and the end of a brutal civil war in 1992.

At the time of Mozambique's independence in 1975 from more than four centuries of Portuguese rule, it was one of the world's poorest countries. Large-scale emigration by whites, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development. The United Nations negotiated a peace agreement between the government and rebel forces in 1992, ending fighting.

Mozambique's record growth was the envy of many developing countries in the 1990s. The government embarked on a series of economic reforms in 1987 to stabilize the economy, though much of the country´s basic social and economic infrastructure was devastated by the war. The reforms, along with foreign assistance and the move to multi-party elections, have helped lower inflation and spark investment, though Mozambique remains dependent on foreign aid.

It has since achieved notable success in rebuilding the economy and holding regular multi-party elections but serious challenges remain as its 2004 presidential elections take place. The Carter Center observed the 1999 presidential elections - the country's first election since the peace agreement - and found the voting process was peaceful and orderly, though problems were noted with processing complaints, delayed poll openings, intimidation of some RENAMO party members, and a lack of transparency in processing the final vote count.

The Center started gearing up for its observation of the Dec. 1-2, 2004, presidential election in October 2003. The Center observed the Nov. 19, 2003, municipal elections and is supporting civil society groups in their efforts to have a voice in the electoral process. The project was established in response to an invitation to observe by the National Elections Commission and follows assessment trips in March and October 2003 during which election authorities, political parties, and local observer groups welcomed the Center's presence. The Center also observed the 1999 national election and has remained engaged in Mozambique through the Center's Global Development Initiative, which has supported the national consensus-building program known as Agenda 2025.

This year, the Center has urged election officials to release its voters register - observers do not know how many Mozambicans are registered or how many voters are assigned to each polling site. The Center, along with the European Union, also has called upon the National Elections Commission to allow international observers access to national tabulation centers.

The Carter Center and Mozambique:
Monitoring Elections

Read more about the Carter Center's work in Mozambique.

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