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Mozambique’s Nyusi Wins Landslide in Election Opposition Rejects

Matthew Hill

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Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi won a second term by a landslide in the natural-gas-rich nation’s Oct. 15 elections that the main opposition rejected as a “mega fraud.”

Nyusi won 73% of the vote, compared with rival Ossufo Momade’s 22%, the electoral commission announced Sunday in Maputo, the capital. His party also won all 10 gubernatorial ballots and more than 70% of seats in the National Assembly in its best performance since 2009, when Nyusi’s predecessor, Armando Guebuza, won a second term with 75% of the vote.

The outcome puts Nyusi and his Frelimo party firmly in control of an economy that’s preparing to receive more than $50 billion in investments in natural-gas-export projects that companies including Total SA and ExxonMobil Corp. plan over the next five years. His immediate priorities will be trying to contain an Islamic State-linked insurgency in the area of the gas projects, while trying to jump-start economic growth that’s this year set to be the lowest in almost two decades.

Also at stake is a potentially fragile peace deal Nyusi signed with Momade in August to permanently end fighting with the Mozambican National Resistance, as the guerrilla-movement-turned-opposition party is known. Violence had flared in the middle of this decade, even though the civil war that left as many as 1 million people dead ended in 1992.

Gas-fueled growth “might lead to Mozambique being the fastest-growing economy in a few years’ time and the country with the largest GDP per capita in Africa,” FirstRand Ltd.’s Rand Merchant Bank said in a note Monday. “President Filipe has his work cut out for him if he is to deliver the promises he made to his state to ensure peace and economic prosperity.”

While election disputes have led to violence in the past, it’s unlikely that Renamo will return to widespread violence this time around, according to people including Andre Thomashausen, who has advised the party in the past and helped draft the 1992 peace deal.

Election Critics

Most observers said voting was generally orderly, though the European Union and U.S. were critical of the elections.

The U.S. expressed “significant concerns regarding problems and irregularities that may impact perceptions of the integrity of the electoral process.” The EU said its observers witnessed four cases of ballot-box stuffing, and that the campaigns were tense with regular violent incidents.

Most observers also raised concern over a voter-registration dispute, where nearly 300,000 more people were added to the roll than the national statistics agency counted there to be adults. This was in a province where the ruling party won by more than 90% in the previous election, and where an elite police unit was implicated in the gunning down of a senior local observer a week before the elections.

(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Hill in Maputo at mhill58@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net, Paul Richardson

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