2 dead in Mozambique protests over local election results, watchdog says. Police say 70 arrested

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Protests in Mozambique over disputed local election results resulted in the deaths of a police officer and a civilian Friday, a corruption watchdog group said. Police reported a total of 70 arrests in four cities but not any fatalities.

The unrest followed Thursday's official validation of the election results, which gave the ruling Frelimo party victory in 64 out of 65 municipalities. A consortium of election observers had reported widespread ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and falsification of results in favor of Frelimo in the Oct. 11 elections.

Demonstrators barricaded streets during the protests, which were concentrated in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, and the northern cities of Nampula and Nacala.

In Maputo, main opposition party Renamo led its supporters in a march. Other groups of protesters blocked main avenues with piles of burning tires and trash. Riot police and plainclothes officers dispersed crowds with tear gas and bursts of AK-47 gunfire into the air.

The police officer was killed in Nampula and the civilian in Nacala, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Mozambican anti-corruption organization. At least two other people in Nampula were seriously injured by tear gas grenades, including a 6-year-old child, local television channel TV Sucesso reported.

Police spokesperson Orlando Mudomane said 60 people were arrested in Nampula, four in Maputo, and the remainder in Nacala and the central city of Quelimane. Police were seen arresting several people inside the headquarters of Renamo's Maputo branch.

Mudomane said 10 people were injured during Friday's protests, but he did not confirm any deaths.

Peaceful Renamo-led demonstrations have taken place across the southern African nation of 32 million since the elections. The results reduced the number of municipalities under Renamo control from eight to zero.

A parallel count of the vote by the consortium of election observers concluded that Renamo beat Frelimo in the major cities of Quelimane, Nampula, Matola and Maputo. This would have put an opposition party in control of the capital for the first time since Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975.

Frelimo and Renamo fought a bloody civil war between 1977 and 1992 in which over 1 million people are estimated to have died. Following a peace settlement, Mozambique held its first democratic elections in 1994.

A dispute over the results of the 2014 general election resulted in more hostility between the parties and a new peace agreement was signed in 2019.


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