The President of the Republic functions as the head of state, head of government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and as a symbol of national unity.
He is directly elected for a five-year term via run-off voting; if no candidate receives more than half of the votes cast in the first round of voting, a second round of voting will be held in which only the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the first round will participate, and whichever of the candidates obtains a majority of votes in the second round will thus be elected President.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. His functions include convening and chairing the Council of Ministers (cabinet), advising the President, assisting the President in governing the country, and coordinating the functions of the other Ministers.
The Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República) has 250 members, elected for a five-year term by proportional representation.
Political parties and elections
For other political parties see List of political parties in Mozambique. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Mozambique.
In 1994 the country held its first democratic elections. Joaquim Chissano was elected President with 53% of the vote, and a 250-member National Assembly was voted in with 129 FRELIMO deputies, 112 RENAMO deputies, and 9 representatives of three smaller parties that formed the Democratic Union (UD).
Since its formation in 1994, the National Assembly has made progress in becoming a body increasingly more independent of the executive. By 1999, more than one-half (53%) of the legislation passed originated in the Assembly.
After some delays, in 1998 the country held its first local elections to provide for local representation and some budgetary authority at the municipal level. The principal opposition party, RENAMO, boycotted the local elections, citing flaws in the registration process. Independent slates contested the elections and won seats in municipal assemblies. Turnout was very low.
In the aftermath of the 1998 local elections, the government resolved to make more accommodations to the opposition's procedural concerns for the second round of multiparty national elections in 1999. Working through the National Assembly, the electoral law was rewritten and passed by consensus in December 1998.
Financed largely by international donors, a very successful voter registration was conducted from July to September 1999, providing voter registration cards to 85% of the potential electorate (more than 7 million voters).
The second general elections were held December 3–5, 1999, with high voter turnout. International and domestic observers agreed that the voting process was well organized and went smoothly. Both the opposition and observers subsequently cited flaws in the tabulation process that, had they not occurred, might have changed the outcome. In the end, however, international and domestic observers concluded that the close result of the vote reflected the will of the people.
President Chissano won the presidency with a margin of 4% points over the RENAMO-Electoral Union coalition candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, and began his 5-year term in January 2000. FRELIMO increased its majority in the National Assembly with 133 out of 250 seats. RENAMO-UE coalition won 116 seats, one went independent, and no third parties are represented.
The opposition coalition did not accept the National Election Commission's results of the presidential vote and filed a formal complaint to the Supreme Court. One month after the voting, the court dismissed the opposition's challenge and validated the election results. The opposition did not file a complaint about the results of the legislative vote.
The second local elections, involving 33 municipalities with some 2.4 million registered voters, took place in November 2003. This was the first time that FRELIMO, RENAMO-UE, and independent parties competed without significant boycotts. The 24% turnout was well above the 15% turnout in the first municipal elections.
FRELIMO won 28 mayoral positions and the majority in 29 municipal assemblies, while RENAMO won 5 mayoral positions and the majority in 4 municipal assemblies.
The voting was conducted in an orderly fashion without violent incidents. However, the period immediately after the elections was marked by objections about voter and candidate registration and vote tabulation, as well as calls for greater transparency.
In May 2004, the government approved a new general elections law that contained innovations based on the experience of the 2003 municipal elections.
Presidential and National Assembly elections took place on December 1–2, 2004. FRELIMO candidate Armando Guebuza won with 64% of the popular vote. His opponent, Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO, received 32% of the popular vote.
FRELIMO won 160 seats in Parliament. A coalition of RENAMO and several small parties won the 90 remaining seats. Armando Guebuza was inaugurated as the President of Mozambique on February 2, 2005.
The judiciary comprises a Supreme Court and provincial, district, and municipal courts.