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Mozambique extends voter registration

30 April 2014, 08:33

Maputo - Mozambique announced a last-minute extension on Tuesday of voter registration for presidential polls after opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama missed the deadline amid new clashes between his rebels and the army.

If he does not register, Dhlakama, the head of rebel group turned opposition party Renamo, will not be able to stand in the October presidential election.

Announcing the 10-day extension, cabinet spokesperson Alberto Nkutumula cited "political events" as one of the reasons.

The three-month registration process had been due to end on Tuesday.

Renamo said Dhlakama had not been able register because government forces "prevented" mobile voter registration brigades from entering the forests where he is believed to be hiding.

Dhlakama, who has lost every election since signing a peace deal with the government in 1992, is believed to be holed up in a remote mountain range in central Sofala province.

He withdrew to the bush in 2012 alleging the government had not kept the terms of the peace agreement, which ended a 16-year civil war.

But late last year, government forces overran his base camp and he fled to another location believed to be in the same region.

Force integration

Since then the region has become increasingly unstable as government forces and Renamo fighters engage in sporadic clashes.

Around 80% of eligible voters have registered so far, election officials said on Tuesday, compared to more than 90% who registered for the last presidential vote in 2009.

Renamo warned of consequences if Dhlakama was unable to register.

Nearly year-long talks aimed at easing tension between Renamo and the government appear deadlocked over Renamo's demands for the integration of its forces into the army and police.

Renamo is demanding security forces be evenly split between its men and forces loyal to the government. It says it will only hand over its arms once that condition is met.

The government, which gave in to Renamo's demands for a greater say in overseeing elections with a drastic overhaul of election laws, has flatly refused the proposed military revamp.



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