- As the final results of Cape Verde's Sunday local elections have been officially published, the opposition Movement for Democracy (MpD) can note a clear election victory. Despite this victory and an approval by international observers, MpD President Agostinho Lopes claims the polls have been manipulated.
The Cape Verdean government has recognised the ruling party's defeat and declared that the local elections have been conducted freely and fairly. International election observers agree that the poll exercise was well organised. The MpD nevertheless claims to have discovered widespread election fraud.
Yesterday, the official results of Sunday's local elections in Cape Verde were presented and the opposition MpD came out as the clear winner. The party will take over nine municipalities from the ruling Cape Verdean Independence Party (PAICV). The MpD in particular managed to conquer the majority in Barlavento, São Nicolau and Ribeira Grande.
The PAICV - the strongest political force in Cape Verde since independence in 1975 - had to note a humiliating defeat in several of its traditional strongholds. In addition to losing out to the MpD, PAICV also lost its dominance on the island Sal to an independent list of João Figueiredo, supported by the MpD.
The election results were however better than the ruling party had hoped in advanced. Prime Minister José Maria Neves said he was satisfied with the performance of the PAICV, saying that during the last weeks, his party "had been growing and, if the elections had been today, the party would even had been the winner."
The better-than-expected results for the PAICV came surprisingly to the MpD leadership. Opposition leader Lopes now claims to have indications that the elections were fraudulent.
Speaking to the Cape Verdean 'Radio Comercial', Mr Lopes said that his party now was to analyse "the possibility of legally challenging the elections in [the Cape Verdean capital,] Praia, where the PAICV gained an absolute majority." The MpD leader alleged irregularities in the voters' rolls of some poll stations in Praia, where "the number of votes is higher than the number of registered voters."
Several representatives of the Cape Verdean government yesterday and today have rejected Mr Lopes' allegations. Armindo Maurício, Minister of Defence and Parliamentary Affairs, commented that "Sunday's elections were the freest and most transparent in the democratic history of Cape Verde."
During a press conference yesterday in Praia, Mr Maurício said he considered the MpD leader a "fundamentalist" after his election fraud allegations. He further considered it "shameful" that Mr Lopes had made these accusations in front of the international observers that had supervised the elections.
The Cape Verdean democracy has become increasingly stable since the introduction of multiparty elections in 1991 - where the MpD defeated the archipelago's formerly only party, the PAICV. Nevertheless, election fraud allegations and proofs have repeatedly occurred.
The last elections arranged in Cape Verde - a presidential poll in February 2001 - were won by the PAICV's candidate Pedro Pires, who won beat his MpD rival Carlos Veiga with only 17 votes. Several irregularities were later discovered. In June last year, two election delegates for President Pires were sentences to prison terms for election fraud during 2001 polls.
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