Mozambique's opposition is divided by a recent split
Mozambicans go to the polls on 28 October to elect the president, parliament and provincial councils in the fourth multi-party poll since independence.
While presidential and parliamentary polls have coincided before, this is the first time that provincial elections will be held simultaneously.
WHO ARE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES?
Incumbent President Armando Guebuza is standing again as the candidate of Frelimo, the former anti-colonial guerrilla group that has run Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975.
Afonso Dhlakama, the veteran leader of the Renamo opposition, is standing for a fourth time. He lost to Mr Guebuza in 2004 and to the then-Frelimo leader Joaquim Chissano in 1994 and 1999.
Daviz Simango, the mayor of the major port city of Beira, is standing as the candidate of the new Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM). Mr Simango was a leading light in Renamo until a split with Mr Dhlakama led him and his supporters to set up the MDM in March 2009.
Profiles of the candidates
WHO IS LIKELY TO WIN?
Most observers of Mozambican politics agree that Mr Guebuza is the favourite to win.
Mr Dhlakama has been weakened by the MDM split, and Renamo performed poorly in mayoral elections in November 2008.
Mr Simango has conducted a dynamic campaign, but has little chance of uniting opposition to Mr Guebuza. The intensity of his feud with Mr Dhlakama has shown no sign of diminishing, and the two exchanged accusations after an apparent assassination attempt on Mr Simango in the summer.
HOW DOES THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WORK?
The winner is the candidate who polls the most votes in the single round of voting. In previous elections the victors have won by convincing margins, despite complaints by European Union and other independent observers about the transparency of the 2004 elections.
Each candidate must be proposed by at least 5,000 voters, with at least 200 residing in each of the country's provinces.
HOW DOES VOTING FOR PARLIAMENT WORK?
The National Assembly comprises 250 MPs representing 11 multi-member constituencies: Maputo City and the country's 10 provinces.
Voting is by proportional representation. Each party or bloc of parties presents a list of candidates. Voters then chose the party or coalition with their preferred candidates.
Each party or coalition must poll at least 5% of the vote to gain seats.
The Central Electoral Commission oversees the registration and electoral process. It allocates time on radio and television among the candidates and announces the results of the voting.
The Constitutional Court is the final arbiter in any dispute. There is no appeal against a decision by the court.
WHICH PARTIES ARE STANDING?
A total of 19 groups are contesting seats. The three main contenders are:
• The Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo): Frelimo ran a one-party state until a constitutional revision in 1990 paved the way to multi-party elections in 1994. Frelimo won 133 of the 250 parliamentary seats in 1999 and 160 in 2004.
• The Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo): Renamo fought in the 1977-1992 civil war against Frelimo before signing peace accords and reorganising itself as a political party. It won the remaining 117 parliamentary seats in 1999, dropping to 90 in 2004.
Renamo accused Frelimo of widespread fraud at the last elections, but did not boycott parliament. Only Frelimo and Renamo are contesting all seats.
• The Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM): The MDM was set up by Beira mayor and presidential candidate Daviz Simango after a split from Renamo in March 2009. Many observers of the political scene think it would do well to win 50 of the 250 seats. The Central Electoral Commission debarred many of its candidates over alleged registration irregularities.
WHO CAN VOTE?
Mozambique has universal suffrage for the over-18s. Nearly 10 million voters are eligible to vote this time. Turnout in 2004 was a poor 34% compared to just more than 68% in 1999, and the public credibility of the expected Guebuza/Frelimo victory is widely seen as depending on improving that score.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ISSUES?
The overwhelming issue is economic development. Frelimo has supervised a period of dramatic growth since abandoning central planning in the early 1990s. National income grew by an average 8% in the period 1992-2002.
But the global recession has slowed the Mozambican growth rate, with expectations of it nearly halving to 4.5% this year.
Moreover, the government has made little progress in reducing the disparity in wealth. A large majority of Mozambicans still lives on less than a dollar a day.
All three major parties are campaigning on pledges to boost foreign investment, develop the rural economy and fight corruption.
WHO WILL MONITOR THE POLL?
Regional and international groups are sending substantial observer missions to Mozambique.
The African Union is sending a 22-member mission, while the Southern African Development Community will supplement its 24 foreign observers with dozens of locally recruited monitors.
The Commonwealth, of which Mozambique is a member, will send an Observer Group of 11 members.
The European Union has dispatched 24 long-term monitors and is deploying more than 70 short-term observers nationwide.
WHEN CAN THE RESULTS BE EXPECTED?
The Central Electoral Commission has until 12 November to issue the results, which must then be validated by the Constitutional Council. In previous elections this has taken up to another month.
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