Mozambique elections: Frelimo ahead, abstention levels could reach 80%

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Saturday, December 4, 2004

MAPUTO, Mozambique – The Mozambique presidential elections vote count continued Friday in all of the country, with Frelimo and it's candidate Armando Guebuza leading, according to the preliminary results already known, and especially in Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, traditional regions of influence for the party in power.

With just over 400 thousand votes counted, the Frelimo candidate was ahead with 293 800 votes, against 108 807 to Afonso Dhlakama and 7899 to Raul Domingos. Unnoficial estimates report abstention levels to be between 70% and 80%.

If confirmed, these abstention levels could force a run-off next month, if neither candidate wins the 50% of votes necessary to win the elections.

Mozambique's official electoral commission is only obligated to announce the final results by Dec. 17.

Rain, Logistics and Cashew problems

Heavy rains, as well as extreme heat and logistics problems during the 2-day elections could explain the low voter turnout, but there could be other factors responsible for this, specifically the start of the cashew season, a traditional source of income for a substantial part of the population.

The cashew season begins in late November, extending to February or March, mainly in four provinces: Gaza and Inhambane (Frelimo strongholds), and especially in Zambézia and Nampula (Renamo strongholds).

Normally, the income obtained from this can sustain the workers for the rest of the year, and usually takes them away from their homes and voting centers.

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