Maputo — The Association of Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle (ACLLN) has added its voice to those calling for a larger number of names to be considered for election as the presidential candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party.
ACLLN is affiliated to Frelimo and its general secretary sits ex oficio on the Frelimo Central Committee. As the living reminder of Frelimo's heroic past, the veterans of the independence war can be assured that the party takes their opinions very seriously.
The decision on the Frelimo presidential candidate must be taken by the Central Committee at a meeting scheduled to begin next Thursday. In December, the Frelimo Political Commission said it had drawn up a short list of three names for submission to the Central Committee. These “pre-candidates” are Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco and Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi.
At a subsequent press conference the Frelimo general secretary, Filipe Paunde, said there was “no space” for further names. This led to accusations that the party leadership was violating the Frelimo statutes and depriving the Central Committee of its rights.
Senior Frelimo figures, including former President Joaquim Chissano, pointed out that under the party statutes, there could be no such limitation, and the Central Committee's choice could not be limited to the three names put forward by the Political Commission.
Speaking at a press conference in the southern city of Matola, where the ACLLN National Committee was meeting, the spokesperson for the event, Carlos Siliya, said the veterans believed there should be more “pre-candidates” to choose from.
Siliya did not put forward any names in particular, and he stressed that ACLLN is not rejecting the names proposed by the Political Commission. Vaqina, Pacheco and Nyussi “are Frelimo militants and we know them”, he said. “We should follow what our statutes stipulate. Let it be clear that the three have not been rejected.
But we accept that there should be an opening for more candidates who are consensual”.
Siliya added that the ACLLN is also demanding that the Frelimo secretariat should be restructured.
“The veterans think it necessary that we should have a strong party and a strong secretariat”, he said. A strong secretariat would raise morale within Frelimo, and “would be able to mobilize the people so that Frelimo wins the elections”.
“It is not out of the question to restructure the Frelimo Secretariat so as to guarantee the victory of Frelimo and of our presidential candidate”, Siliya stressed.