Mozambican President Armando Guebuza won a resounding general election victory, officials said yesterday, with his Frelimo party capturing enough parliamentary seats to change the constitution at will.
Frelimo, in power since it led the country to independence from Portugal in 1975, won 191 parliamentary seats out of 250.
Guebuza, seen as welcoming of greater foreign investment, beat his rivals, long-time opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, and the head of a new party, Daviz Simango, capturing 75.46 % of the presidential vote.
“Armando Guebuza has been re-elected president of the republic for the next five years,” said Joao da Costa, chairman of Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE).
Despite being one of Africa’s poorest countries, Mozambique has growing economic potential. Foreign capital helped the agriculture-dependent economy grow more than 6 % last year.
Although the ability to change the constitution will give Guebuza more leverage in policy-making, analysts do not expect any dramatic changes beyond his promises to simplify investment laws, cut red tape and press on with market liberalisation.
“They (Frelimo) are not ones to rock the boat. They have ruled decisively without any significant threat to their ability to rule. They are not a reckless, unstable government,” said Mark Schroeder, southern Africa analyst at STRATFOR global intelligence company.
Guebuza, a millionaire businessman, is under pressure to provide poor Mozambicans with the benefits of tourism and untapped mineral and energy resources that have started to draw foreign investors, particularly from neighbouring South Africa.
And Guebuza, who made his fortune in the energy, transport and port industries, now faces the new challenge of accommodating a new generation that was not born in the liberation struggle nor the 16-year civil war against Renamo.
The main opposition Renamo party had rejected partial results of the October 28 general election, accusing Frelimo of stuffing ballot boxes.
Nearly 30 parties registered for the poll, but the election commission allowed candidates from only 19 to run. Only Frelimo and Renamo have been allowed to contest every constituency for the 250 seats in parliament.
The elections were the fourth multiparty polls since the end of the civil war in 1992, and monitors said they were generally well run.
Frelimo won 160 seats in parliament in 2004, while Guebuza notched up 64 % of the popular vote.
Pic: President Armado Guebuza of Mozambique