Mozambique is a multi party democracy under the 1990 constitution. The executive branch comprises a President, Prime Minister, and Council of Ministers. There is a National Assembly and municipal assemblies. The judiciary comprises a Supreme Court and provincial, district, and municipal courts. Suffrage is universal at eighteen.
In the 1994 elections, Joaquim Chissano was elected President with 53% of the vote, and a 250-member National Assembly was voted in with 129 Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) deputies, 112 Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) deputies, and nine representatives of three smaller parties that formed the Democratic Union (UD).
Since its formation in 1994, the National Assembly has made progress in becoming a body increasingly more independent of the executive. By 1999, 53% of the legislation passed originated in the Assembly.
After some delays, in 1998 the country held its first local elections to provide for local representation and some budgetary authority at the municipal level. The principal opposition party, RENAMO, boycotted the local elections, citing flaws in the registration process. Independent slates contested the elections and won seats in municipal assemblies. Turnout was very low.
In the aftermath of the 1998 local elections, the government resolved to make more accommodations to the opposition’s procedural concerns for the second round of multiparty national elections in 1999. Working through the National Assembly, the electoral law was rewritten and passed by consensus in December 1998.
Financed largely by international donors, a very successful voter registration was conducted from July to September 1999, providing voter registration cards to 85% of the potential electorate (more than seven million voters).
The second general elections were held 3–5 December 1999, with high voter turnout. International and domestic observers agreed that the voting process was well organised and went smoothly. Both the opposition and observers subsequently cited flaws in the tabulation process that, had they not occurred, might have changed the outcome. In the end, however, international and domestic observers concluded that the close result of the vote reflected the will of the people.
President Chissano won the presidency with a margin of 4% over the RENAMO-Electoral Union coalition candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, and began his five-year term in January 2000. FRELIMO increased its majority in the National Assembly with 133 out of 250 seats. RENAMO-UE coalition won 116 seats, one went independent, and no third parties are represented.
The opposition coalition did not accept the National Election Commission’s results of the presidential vote and filed a formal complaint to the Supreme Court. One month after the voting, the court dismissed the opposition’s challenge and validated the election results. The opposition did not file a complaint about the results of the legislative vote.
The second local elections, involving thirty-three municipalities with some 2.4 million registered voters, took place in November 2003. This was the first time that FRELIMO, RENAMO-UE, and independent parties competed without significant boycotts. The 24% turnout was well above the 15% turnout in the first municipal elections.
FRELIMO won twenty-eight mayoral positions and the majority in twenty-nine municipal assemblies, while RENAMO won five mayoral positions and the majority in four municipal assemblies. The voting was conducted in an orderly fashion without violent incidents. However, the period immediately after the elections was marked by objections about voter and candidate registration and vote tabulation, as well as calls for greater transparency.
In May 2009, the government approved a new general elections law that contained innovations based on the experience of the 2003 municipal elections. Presidential and National Assembly elections took place on 1–2 December 2004. FRELIMO candidate Armando Guebuza won with 64% of the popular vote. His opponent, Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO, received 32% of the popular vote.
FRELIMO won 160 seats in Parliament. A coalition of RENAMO and several small parties won the 90 remaining seats. Armando Guebuza was inaugurated as the President of Mozambique on 2 February 2005.
RENAMO and some other opposition parties made claims of election fraud and denounced the result. These claims were supported by international observers (among others by the European Union Election Observation Mission to Mozambique and the Carter Centre) to the elections who criticised the fact that the National Electoral Commission (CNE) did not conduct fair and transparent elections. They listed a whole range of shortcomings by the electoral authorities that benefited the ruling party FRELIMO.
According to EU observers, the elections shortcomings have probably not affected the final result in the presidential election. On the other hand, the observers have declared that the outcome of the parliamentary election and thus the distribution of seats in the National Assembly doesnot reflect the will of the Mozambican people and is clearly to the disadvantage of RENAMO.
After clashes between RENAMO guards and the police in Muxungue and Gondola in April 2013, RENAMO said it would boycott and disrupt local elections in November 2013. Since the end of the civil war in 1992, about 300 RENAMO guards had remained armed and refused to join the national army or the police force.