A new constitution was adopted in November 1990, replacing the independence constitution. Separating executive, legislative and judiciary powers, it enshrined the principles of political pluralism and election by secret ballot of a government based on majority rule. The President is head of state and government and is directly elected every five years for a maximum of two terms. He or she appoints the Prime Minister and council of ministers. The national legislature is the 250-member Assembléia da República, members of which are also elected by direct, universal adult suffrage every five years.
The 1990 constitution abolished the death penalty, affirmed the right to strike and protected freedom of movement. It also avows the right to live in a ‘balanced environment’ and establishes the framework for a liberal market economy and the private ownership of land.
Under the constitution that was adopted in November 2004 and came into force in January 2005, the Constitutional Council was established to ensure strict observance of the constitution, including the electoral acts; also established was the Council of State – comprising the Prime Minister, and representatives of the opposition and civil society – to advise the President on specific matters. The ombudsman ensures protection of citizens’ rights in the public realm. The new constitution emphasises that its interpretation should always be consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
President Joaquim Chissano and his party, Frelimo (Frente de Libertaçâo de Moçambique), won the presidential and parliamentary elections in December 1999. Chissano secured 52.3 per cent of the popular vote and Afonso Dhlakama – leader of Renamo (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana) and the candidate for 11 opposition parties – received 47.7 per cent. In the parliamentary elections Frelimo took 133 seats (48.5 per cent) and Renamo 117 (38.8 per cent).
Chissano announced in mid-2001 that he would not stand for a third term in the election due in 2004 and in June 2002 Frelimo selected Armando Guebuza as its new leader and presidential candidate.
In the December 2004 elections Guebuza – with 63.7 per cent of the votes – and Frelimo – with 160 seats – defeated Dhlakama (31.7 per cent) and Renamo (90 seats). Renamo immediately alleged electoral fraud and threatened to boycott parliament. Commonwealth observers and experts, who attended the elections, expressed concern at the low turnout (estimated at 36 per cent); they further concluded that conditions did exist for the free expression of the will of the people but that some degree of fraud had taken place which could conceivably have been sufficient to affect the results.
In October 2009 Guebuza and Frelimo were returned to power. In the presidential contest Guebuza received 75 per cent of votes, Renamo leader Dhlakama 16 per cent and Daviz Simango of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) nine per cent; the turnout was 44 per cent. In the parliamentary elections Frelimo won 191 seats (with 75 per cent of votes), Renamo 51 seats (18 per cent) and MDM eight (four per cent). Commonwealth observers, who were once again present, found that the election had generally been well conducted, though there were concerns about lack of transparency in the work of the National Elections Commission.
On 15 October 2014, in a turnout of less than 50 per cent, the presidential and parliamentary elections were won by Frelimo. In the presidential poll Filipe Nyusi (Frelimo) secured 57 per cent of votes, Dhlakama (Renamo) 37 per cent and Simango (MDM) six per cent. Frelimo – with 56 per cent of the vote – took 144 parliamentary seats, Renamo – with 32 per cent – 89 seats and MDM – with eight per cent – 17 seats. Some 26 other parties took part in the parliamentary elections. A Commonwealth observer group led by former Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Hubert Ingraham, was present at the elections.