Maputo — A senior official in Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has threatened that Renamo will boycott next year's municipal elections, and the 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections, unless its demands over amendments to the electoral legislation are met, reports the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique".
Speaking at the opening in Beira on Friday of a provincial Renamo meeting, the party's Sofala provincial delegate, Manuel Lole, demanded complete politicisation of both the National Elections Comission (CNE), and of its executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE).
The new electoral legislation must by approved by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, "by consensus" insisted Lole - otherwise Renamo would not take part in future elections.
"Consensus" is the Renamo code word for a veto - and Renamo has made it abundantly clear that it will not vote for any law that does not impose a political party stranglehold over the electoral bodies.
Currently, the CNE consists of five nominees from political parties (three from Frelimo and two from Renamo) and eight members from civil society organisations. STAE is treated as part of the civil service, with appointments made on merit, and it contains no political party appointees.
While civil society is calling for the removal of the five political appointees, Renamo wants the CNE to be entirely dominated by the political parties. In the long-drawn out negotiations inside the Assembly's Commission on Public Administration, and later between the leaderships of the political party parliamentary groups, Renamo has refused to back down on its demand for "parity" on the CNE between the three parliamentary parties.
The latest Renamo proposal is for a 17 member CNE - five appointed by the ruling Frelimo Party, five by Renamo, five by the Mozambique Democratic Movement and two from extra-parliamentary opposition parties.
No attempt has been made to explain why parties with such disparate levels of support or parliamentary representation should appoint the same number of CNE members (Frelimo has 191 seats in the Assembly, Renamo 51 and the MDM just eight).
In March Frelimo had proposed a small and entirely non-political CNE - just seven members, all of them appointed by civil society, with no appointees whatever from political parties. This proposal was considered so shocking by Renamo and the MDM that Frelimo went into reverse, and has ended up proposing a CNE in which the majority of its members will be appointed by political parties.
Frelimo and the MDM now call for a 13 member CNE - eight appointees of the parliamentary political parties and five from civil society.
At the opening of the Beira meeting, Lole said Renamo "will only agree to go to the elections when these aspects that guarantee democracy are incorporated into the electoral law".
When asked what Renamo would do if it did not get its way over the electoral law, he replied "right now we are meeting to put together ideas about how we will participate in the 2013 municipal elections, if the electoral is approved by consensus".
But, if Renamo's positions are not incorporated into the law, he insisted that Renamo would stage a boycott.
Renamo has already boycotted all the mayoral by-elections held recently - in the cities of Quelimane, Pemba and Cuamba last December, and in Inhambane in April.