Maputo — The dialogue between the Mozambican government and the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, made no headway on Monday after failure to reach any agreement on amendments to the electoral legislation.
Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, the head of the government delegation, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, said that Renamo had demanded the formation of a National Elections Commission (CNE) on the basis of what it called parity.
According to Pacheco, in the discussions, the Renamo delegation, headed by the party’s general secretary, Manuel Bissopo, had called for a CNE of 17 members, seven appointed by the ruling Frelimo Party, seven by a supposed coalition between Renamo and the second opposition force, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), and three from civil society organizations.
This is quite different from the formula advocated by the Renamo group in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. The latest proposal from the Renamo group is for a 14 member CNE – four appointed by Frelimo, four by Renamo, four by the MDM and two by extra-parliamentary parties. Far from being “parity”, this is an opposition majority of ten to four.
Pacheco said the composition of the CNE was not a matter for the government at all, but was under discussion in the Assembly. The government would simply comply with whatever electoral legislation is passed by the Assembly. Pacheco said he had told the Renamo delegation to present its positions to the Assembly through its parliamentary group.
Bissopo had threatened that, if the government does not accept the Renamo demand for “parity”, then Renamo would boycott the forthcoming municipal and general elections, and would not allow anyone else to vote. Pacheco said that, if Renamo no longer wished to discuss the electoral legislation, that was a matter that should be dealt with under the Assembly’s standing orders.
But any attempt to prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote would be a violation of democratic principles, Pacheco said, and the government would take the necessary measures to ensure that citizens’ rights are protected. He noted there was nothing new about Renamo threats – Renamo had habitually resorted to such threats when elections were on the horizon.
Bissopo said Renamo was dealing with the electoral legislation with the government because it does not recognize the legitimacy of the Assembly, claiming that it resulted from fraud in the 2009 elections. Yet the elected Renamo deputies all took their seats in the Assembly, and are all drawing their parliamentary salaries. Furthermore, the Renamo deputies have been discussing the electoral legislation in parliamentary commissions for almost three years.
Bissopo said that, since there had been no advance in the second round of talks with the governnment, Renamo would return to what he called its “general staff headquarters” in order “to reformulate the rules of democracy”, and impose “a transitional government”.
Nonetheless, the two sides have not broken off contacts, and a third round of talks will be held next Monday, to discuss what Renamo regards as the fusion of the Mozambican state with the Frelimo Party.