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Former Rebels Pull Out of Mozambique Election

October 27, 1994| From Reuters

MAPUTO, Mozambique — Mozambique's former rebel Renamo movement, which waged a 16-year civil war against the Maputo government, said it had pulled out of the country's first multi-party elections hours before polls opened today.

Renamo spokesman Rahil Khan cited fraud as the reason for the move but said the movement would participate if its concerns were met.

"There have not been created conditions for free and fair elections due to fraud, so we are not participating. That is our position now," he said.

The statement threw officials into confusion after members of Renamo and the independent National Electoral Commission met into the early hours today to try to resolve the problems.

A senior Western diplomat said he did not regard the Renamo comment as a final pullout, even hours before polls were due to open at 7 a.m. local time to elect a national assembly and president.

A U.N. member of the team overseeing Mozambique's 2-year-old peace accord and transition to democracy said confusion reigned.

"It's not at all clear what is happening," the official said.

The streets of Maputo were quiet as dawn broke over the capital of the former Portuguese colony.

Diplomatic observers said it is unlikely the voting could be postponed. They questioned how Renamo--the Mozambique National Resistance headed by Afonso Dhlakama--would get the message to its supporters to stay away from polling stations.

The former Renamo rebels' demands included proper monitoring of voter registration and ballot papers and the resignation of a U.N. Development Program consultant who the movement said was promoting irregularities.

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