US, EU concerned over delayed Mozambique vote count

A Mozambican electoral commission voting official at a polling station holds a marked ballot during counting procedures after general elections on October 15, 2014 in Maputo (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)

Maputo (AFP) - Foreign observers on Tuesday voiced concern over alleged irregularities in the counting of votes from Mozambique's presidential and legislative polls held last week.

Both the European Union and the United States government issued statements on Tuesday pointing at problems in the tallying process after last Wednesday's polls.

"Despite an orderly election day, these processes have encountered many difficulties and adversities," the EU observer mission said.

These included "faulty" handling of final result sheets from polling stations and lengthy tabulation procedures.

The EU "considers that such mishaps in the tabulation process, added to the absence of official public explanations about these difficulties, hinders what has been an orderly start on election day."

The EU observers noted that legal deadlines for the announcement of district and provincial results "were in their majority unfulfilled."

Calling for a "rigorous counting process", the US government said it had noted "some irregularities arising in the reconciliation of the results of polling stations with district counts".

International and domestic observers had praised Mozambique's election day as generally peaceful and orderly, despite several incidents of violence.

Provisional tallies by the national electoral commission so far are showing the ruling Frelimo party, in power since independence in 1975, leading with around 60 percent of the votes.

Former rebel group turned opposition Renamo is in second place with around 32 percent, while an upstart opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement is trailing behind with eight percent.

Mozambique's National Electoral Commission (CNE) admitted Tuesday it had missed the five-day deadline to release provincial tallies. But its spokesman Paulo Cuinica told AFP that would "not jeopardise work at the national level."

Tallies from all but four of the country's 11 provinces have been processed.

Renamo claims to have won in the four outstanding provinces -- northern Nampula, northwestern Tete, central Sofala and Zambezia -- according to its parallel count.

Independent observers led by a Mozambican watchdog, the Centre for Public Integrity, said it had received reports that at some polling stations, including in parts of Maputo, "the number of voters was more than double" the number of those registered.

Cuinica said the CNE was investigating.

The CNE is expected to announce the final results on October 30.