Electoral/Political Party Reform: General Peace Agreement for Mozambique

Protocol II: 1. The nature of political parties

(a) Political parties shall be independent, voluntary and free associations of citizens, national in scope, whose primary purpose shall be to give democratic expression to the will of the people and to provide for democratic participation in the exercise of political power in accordance with the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens and on the basis of electoral processes at all levels of State organization.

(b) Associations whose primary purpose is to promote local or sectoral interests or the exclusive interests of a given social group or class of citizens shall be different from political parties and may not enjoy the status provided for by law for such parties.

(c) The Political Parties Act shall determine the conditions for the acquisition of the status of juridical person by political parties.

(d) Political parties shall be granted specific privileges, which shall be guaranteed by law.

(e) For the operation and full development of a multi-party democracy based on respect for and guarantees of basic rights and freedoms and based on pluralism of democratic political expression and organization under which political power belongs exclusively to the people and is exercised in accordance with principles of representative and pluralistic democracy, the parties must have fundamentally democratic principles by which they must abide in practice and in their political activities.

2. General principles

In their formation, structure and operations, political parties shall observe and apply the following general principles with the aim of controlling their actions:

(a) They must pursue democratic purposes;

(b) They must pursue national and patriotic interests;

(c) The political objectives pursued must be non-regional, non-tribal, non-separatist, non-racial, non-ethnic and non-religious;

(d) The members of political parties must be citizens of Mozambique;

(e) The parties must have a democratic structure and the bodies must be transparent;

(f) The parties must accept democratic methods for the pursuit of their aims;

(g) Joining a political party must be a voluntary act reflecting the freedom of citizens to associate with others who share the same political outlook.

3. The rights of parties

The purpose of the Political Parties Act shall be to protect the freedom of action and operation of political parties, with the exception of those which espouse anti-democratic, totalitarian or violent aims, or which conduct their activities in a manner contrary to law.

Parties shall enjoy the following rights:

(a) Equal rights and duties before the law;

(b) Every Party shall have the right freely and publicly to propound its policies;

(c) Specific guarantees shall be provided with respect to access to the mass media, sources of public funding and public facilities, in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination and on the basis of criteria of representativeness to be specified in the Electoral Act;

(d) Exemption from taxes and fees as provided for by law;

(e) No citizen shall be persecuted or discriminated against because of membership in a political party or political opinion;

(f) Other aspects specific to individual political parties shall be determined in their respective statutes or regulations, which must conform with the law. Public notice shall be given of such statutes or regulations.

4. Duties of parties

Political parties shall fulfil the following requirements:

(a) They shall be identified by name, acronym and symbol. The use of names, acronyms or symbols which may be considered offensive by the inhabitants or which incite to violence and may have divisive connotations based on race, region, tribe, gender or religion shall be prohibited;

(b) They shall not call into question the country's territorial integrity and national unity;

(c) They must establish their organs and organize their internal structure on the basis of the principle of democratic election and responsibility of all individuals holding party office;

(d) They must ensure that their statutes and programmes are approved by a majority of their members or by assemblies representing those members;

(e) As regards their internal organization, Parties must fully respect the principle of free adherence of their members, who may not be compelled to join or remain in a party against their will;

(f) They must be registered and disclose annually their accounts and sources of funding.

5. Registration

(a) The purpose of registration is to certify that the founding and existence of parties is in accordance with the applicable legal principles and, consequently, to confer on parties the status of juridical person;

(b) For the purposes of registration, each Party must have collected at least 2,000 signatures;

(c) Responsibility for registering parties shall rest with the Government;

(d) The Commission provided for in paragraph 5 of Protocol I on basic principles shall consider and settle any disputes which may arise in connection with the registration of parties. For that purpose the Government shall make available to the Commission the documents required by law.

6. Implementation

(a) The Parties agree that, immediately following the signature of the General Peace Agreement, Renamo shall commence its activities as a political party, with the privileges provided for by law; it shall, however, be required to submit at a later date the documents required by law for registration;
(b) Pursuing the method of dialogue, collaboration and regular consultation, the parties agree to establish, in connection with the discussion of item 5 of the Agreed Agenda, the timetable of activities necessary for the proper implementation of this Protocol.

Protocol III: V. Electoral procedures: system of democratic, impartial and pluralistic voting:

1. General Principles

(a) The Electoral Act shall establish an electoral system which is consonant with the principles of the direct, equal, secret and personal ballot;

(b) Elections to the Assembly of the Republic and for President of the Republic shall be held simultaneously;

(c) The elections shall take place within one year after the date of the signing of the General Peace Agreement. This period may be extended if it is determined that circumstances exist which preclude its observance.

2. The right to vote

(a) Mozambican citizens 18 years of age and over shall have the right to vote, with the exception of individuals suffering from certified mental incapacity or insanity;

(b) As envisaged by item 4 (a) of the Agreed Agenda, Mozambican citizens who are detained or have been sentenced to a prison term for a criminal offense under ordinary law shall not have the right to vote until they complete their sentence. In any event, this restriction shall not apply to individuals belonging to the Parties in respect of acts committed in the course of military operations;

(c) Exercise of the right to vote shall be conditional on registration in the electoral rolls;

(d) With the aim of promoting the broadest possible participation in the elections, the parties agree to encourage all Mozambican citizens 18 years of age and over to register and to exercise their right to vote.

3. National elections commission

(a) For the purpose of organizing and conducting the electoral process, the Government shall set up a National Elections Commission, composed of individuals whose professional and personal qualities afford guarantees of balance, objectivity and independence vis-ˆ-vis all political parties. One third of the members to be appointed to the Commission shall be nominated by RENAMO;

(b) The Commission shall have the following functions:

1. To draw up, in consultation with the political parties, regulations governing election campaigning, regulations on the distribution of broadcast air time and regulations on the utilization of public and private places and facilities during the election campaign;

2. To oversee the compilation of electoral rolls, the legal filing of candidacies, the public announcement of candidacies and checking and recording the election results;

3. To monitor the electoral process and ensure compliance with the laws;

4. To ensure equality of treatment for citizens in all acts relating to the elections;

5. To receive, consider and settle complaints with respect to the validity of the elections;

6. To ensure equal opportunity and treatment for the different candidates;

7. To review the election accounts;

8. To draw up and have published in the national gazette (Boletim da Republica) the lists of the results of the final vote tally.

4. Voting Assemblies

(a) At each polling place there shall be a Voting Assembly composed of:

- All citizens who are to exercise their right to vote at the given polling place;

- Representative of the various candidates and parties.

(b) Each Voting Assembly shall be presided over by a Ballot Board composed of a Chairman, a vice-chairman-cum-secretary and tellers which shall oversee the electoral operations;

(c) The members of the Ballot Board shall be appointed from among the voters belonging to the Voting Assembly in question, with the agreement of the representatives of the various candidates;

(d) The ballot boards shall be responsible for monitoring all electoral operations and transmitting the results to the National Elections Commission;

(e) Delegates of the candidates or parties in the Voting Assembly shall have the right:

1. To monitor all electoral operations;

2. To examine the rolls compiled or utilized by the Board;

3. To be heard and to receive clarifications with respect to all matters relating to the conduct of the Assembly;

4. To submit complaints;

5. To occupy the places closest to the Assembly Board;

6. To initial and sign the official records of the Assembly and to monitor all acts related to the electoral operations.

(f) Any complaints shall be included in the official records and transmitted to the National Elections Commission.

5. Election to the Assembly of the Republic

(a) The country's provinces shall constitute electoral districts. The National Elections Commission shall decide on the apportionment of seats to each electoral district on the basis of population;

(b) The Electoral Act shall provide for an electoral system based on the principle of proportional representation for election to the Assembly;

(c) Parties which intend to stand jointly for elections to the Assembly must submit lists under a single emblem

(d) Once the election campaign has begun, the combining of electoral lists for the purpose of pooling votes shall not be permitted;

(e) Citizens 18 years of age and over shall be eligible to stand for election to the Assembly of the Republic. The parties agree, however, on the desirability of raising the minimum age to 25 for the forthcoming elections as a transitional measure;

(f) A minimum percentage of votes cast nationwide shall be established, below which competing political parties may not have a seat in the Assembly. This percentage shall be agreed in consultation with all political parties in the country and shall not be less than 5 per cent or more than 20 per cent;

(g) Representatives of the parties in each electoral district shall be elected in the order in which they appear on the lists.

6. Election of the President of the Republic

(a) The President of the Republic shall be elected by an absolute majority of ballots cast. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority, a second ballot shall be held restricted to the two candidates who have received the highest number of votes;

(b) The second ballot shall take place within one to three weeks after the announcement of the results of the first ballot. Having regard to organizational considerations, the date of the ballot shall be indicated before the commencement of the election campaign;

(c) Individuals 35 years of age and over who are citizens and registered voters shall be eligible to stand for election to the office of President of the Republic;

(d) Candidacies for President of the Republic must have the support of at least 10,000 signatures of Mozambican citizens 18 years of age and over who are currently registered voters.

7. Financing and facilities

(a) The National Elections Commission shall guarantee the distribution to all parties competing in the elections, without discrimination, of subsidies and logistic support for the election campaign apportioned on the basis of the number of each party's candidates and under the supervision of all parties competing in the elections;

(b) The Government undertakes to assist in obtaining facilities and means so that Renamo may secure the accommodation and transport and communications facilities it needs to carry out its political activities in all the provincial capitals, and in other locations to the extent that the available resources so permit;

(c) For these purposes the Government shall seek support from the international community and, in particular, from Italy.

Protocol III.VI. Guarantees for the electoral process and role of international observers:

(a) Supervision and monitoring of the implementation of this Protocol shall be guaranteed by the Commission envisaged in Protocol I on basic principles;

(b) With a view to ensuring the highest degree of impartiality in the electoral process, the parties agree to invite as observers the United Nations, OAU and other organizations, as well as appropriate private individuals from abroad as may be agreed between the Government and Renamo.

The observers shall perform their function from the commencement of the electoral campaign to the time when the Government takes office;

(c) With the aim of expediting the peace process, the parties also agree on the necessity of seeking technical and material assistance from the United Nations and OAU following the signature of the General Peace Agreement;`

Implementation History


Intermediate Implementation

The 1992 General Peace Agreement (GPA), signed in Rome by President Joaquim Chissano and guerrilla leader Afonso Dhlakama, marked the beginning of a fundamentally successful process of democratic change in Mozambique. It provided an institutional framework for a transformation from a one party to a multi-party democracy by providing the means for both RENAMO and FRELIMO to change themselves into legitimate political parties.1

The electoral act in Protocol III of the General Peace Agreement was passed as law in October 1992.2

  • 1. Carrie Manning, The Politics of Peace in Mozambique: Post-Conflict Democratization, 1992-2000  (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2002).
  • 2. Irae Baptista Lundin, "Towards Stable Electoral Laws in Mozambique," African Journal on Conflict Resolution 4, no. 2 (2004): 97-118, 103.

Intermediate Implementation

Since the demobilization was still going on, no serious debate on electoral law took place.


Full Implementation

The GPA changed the Constitution and introduced ‘principles of Electoral Law’ in article 107. Paragraph 3 of article 107 was revised and changed from majority vote to proportional vote according to the protocol of the GPA. The new Constitution and the GPA had thus established the foundations for the creation of the planning, executing, directing, and supervising organs of the electoral processes for the multi-party elections—the National Electoral Commission (CNE) and the Technical Secretariat of the Electoral Administration (STAE).3

  • 3. Ibid., 103.

Full Implementation

The electoral law was adopted in 1994.


Full Implementation

The electoral law was adopted in 1994. However, there were amendments to the constitution in 1996 by Law 6/96 on 22 November 1996.4


Full Implementation

The following laws were approved by parliament for local government elections:5

• Law 2/97 on February 18th: Approving the legal framework for the implementation of the local municipalities.

• Law 4/97 on May 28th: Creating the National Electoral Commission. 

• Law 5/97 on May 28th: Institutionalizing the systematic electoral census for the realization of the election and opinion polls. 

• Law 6/97 on May 28th: Establishing the legal-juridical framework for the elections of the local municipal organs. 

• Law 7/98 on May 31st: Establishing the framework for the administrative tutelage of the State upon the local municipalities. 

• Law 8/97 on May 31st: Establishing the special norms that regulate the organization and the functioning of the city of Maputo (the capital city of the Republic). 

• Law 9/97 on May 31st: Defining the statute of the office holders and members of the local municipalities.

• Law 10/97 on May 31st: Creating the municipalities in cities and villages and in some territorial circumscriptions. 

• Law 11/97 on May 31st: Defining and establishing the legal-juridical regime of the municipal finances and patrimony.


Full Implementation

In 1998, just before the general election, Justice Minister Jose Abudo proposed amendments to the 1997 law creating the National Elections Commission, and a new law on electoral procedures based largely on the law used for the country's first multi-party elections in 1994.  The RENAMO General Secretary, Joao Alexandre, accused the government of waiting until the last minute to draft a new electoral law "even though it has known since 1992 that there would be general elections in 1999."6 The law was not amended in 1998.

  • 6. “Mozambique: Government Presents Electoral Bill,” Africa News, October 22, 1998.

Full Implementation

In September 1999 Mozambique's National Parliament amended the country's electoral law. “The amendments changed the organic structure of the STAE. The innovation was to permit the appointment of two Deputy General Directors by the political parties according to the representation in parliament. They would assist the General Director but have no right to vote. The CNE was also changed. In 1994, the most consensual CNE was composed of members chosen by the government, by RENAMO, as well as from the small parties."7

“Paragraph 2 of article 19 of law 4/99 that created the CNE, stipulated that in the electoral periods the organic framework of STAE, at each level, is to be complemented by political appointments. Law 4/99 introduced alterations in the composition of CNE, enlarging the organ at provincial, district and city levels. The new composition of the CNE for 1999 increased from eight members in 1998 to 17 members: 15 members elected proportionally by political parties represented in parliament, and two members appointed by government. The president of the organ was to be nominated by civil society and appointed by the President of the Republic. At provincial level CNE was to have seven members, one designated by government and six by the parties represented in the parliament, proportionally. At district and city level, the membership stood at five in the total, one plus four following the same principle. The amended electoral law in 1999 did also provide for a new electoral census, and the limit of 18 years to register to vote, to be completed up to the last day of the census. In 1999 FRELIMO’s candidate won the presidency, and representation in the national parliament is 133 seats for FRELIMO and 117 seats for RENAMO-Electoral Union.”8

  • 7. Irae Baptista Lundin, "Towards Stable Electoral Laws in Mozambique," 110.
  • 8. Ibid.

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.


Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

“In 2002 parliament amended the law for local elections to be held in 2003, in order to make it more consensual."9 Three new laws were discussed and approved, providing a framework for the national elections to be held in 2004:

• Law 18/2002 on October 10: Altering the laws 5/97 and 9/99, related to the institution of the systematic electoral census for the realization of elections and opinions polls. 

• Law 19/2002 on October 10: Introducing alterations to the law 6/97, related to the election of the organs of the local municipalities. 

• Law 2/2002 on October 10: Creating the National Electoral Commission. 

“The new CNE will have 19 members, 17 appointed by the parliament on a proportional basis, and one member without a voting right, appointed by the government. The 19th member is the president of CNE appointed by the civil society. The CNE will choose the provincial and district commission to be in force from 45 days before the date of the electoral census, electoral acts and electoral polls, and ceases its functions ten days after the results have been presented to the public. The electoral commissions at city and district levels, function from 30 days before the date of the electoral census, electoral acts and opinion polls, and cease their functions five days after the results have been presented to the public.”10 

“The most notable feature of the amendment was that the CNE was to be headed by a member appointed by the civil society, to be approved by the parliament from the list of at least three names, and nominated by the President of the Republic. The process caused a good feeling of counting in state affairs in the civil society, even if because it was a new practice it has probably not produced the best results in the eyes of all sectors of the civil society. Decisions in the CNE will be made by consensus, there will be a permanent voter’s roll, and CNE will remain a permanent structure.”11 

“STAE will have its General Director selected by the CNE, after a public contest based on curriculum evaluation, and appointed by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the CNE. During the electoral period the Director of the STAE is assisted by two Deputy General Directors nominated by the political parties according to the representation in the parliament. This fact will hopefully prevent boycotts and turn the election into a really participatory democratic exercise. Moreover, the new law (20/2002) will hopefully prevent the accusations of fraud that the opposition has made since 1994, the worst in 1999 when the Supreme Court ruled out the appeal."12