Mozambique: Deserters From Mdm Stripped of Assembly Seats

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Maputo — The Constitutional Council, Mozambique’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, on Wednesday stripped six people who had switched party of their seats in the municipal assemblies.

The decision affects people who had defected from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) to the main opposition party, Renamo.

In October, the National Elections Commission (CNE) had declined to take a decision on the matter and simply remitted it to the Constitutional Council. The issue of the MDM turncoats had only been raised on 3 October, by which time the definitive list of candidates for the municipal elections had already been published.

In its ruling validating and proclaiming the results of the elections held on 10 October, the Council said those who stood for one party in the previous elections (2013), but then jumped ship and joined another party, were not eligible for election.

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The most prominent Renamo figure affected by this is Ricardo Tomas, elected to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on the MDM ticket, but who tried to run for mayor of Tete municipality, as head of the Renamo list on 10 October.

The Council stripped him of his Tete Assembly seat, and so the Renamo group in the Assembly will have to be led by the number two on the list.

An identical situation occurred in the southern city of Xai-Xai, where the head of the Renamo list, Mouzinho Gundurujo, is a defector from the MDM.

In Maputo, four Renamo members elected to the municipal assembly were formerly MDM members of the Assembly. They have all now lost their seats, and the Council decreed that their places will be taken by those immediately below them on the lists.

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The Council did not mention the best known MDM defector of all, Manual de Araujo, the mayor of the central city of Quelimane. He was elected mayor on the MDM ticket in 2011 and again in 2013. In July he abandoned the MDM and joined Renamo. Immediately appointed head of the Renamo list in Quelimane, he is once again mayor, but now representing a different party.

The government tried to sack Araujo in September, but he appealed to the Administrative Tribunal, which has not yet ruled on his case.

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One prominent MDM figure also fell foul of the Council’s ruling. Silverio Ronguane was head of the MDM list in Matola, but the Council has now stripped him of his seat on the Matola Assembly, because he had resigned from the Assembly in 2014.

A clause in the municipal legislation states that, if a person resigns from municipal office, he is not eligible to stand in the next round of municipal elections. Ronguane had not resigned for anything shameful, but merely because he was standing for parliament, and parliamentary and municipal office are incompatible.

But the law makes no distinctions. Any resignation, no matter how honourable the reason, makes the person concerned ineligible to stand in the next elections.

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