23 February 2014

Mozambique: Frelimo Must Rally Round Presidential Candidate - Guebuza

Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza declared on Saturday that whoever becomes the presidential candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party will be elected democratically by the Central Committee, and so will be supported by all members of the Party.

Guebuza was speaking at the closing session of a meeting of the National Committee of the Association of the Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle (ACLLN), held in the southern city of Matola. ACLLN is affiliated to Frelimo.

The Central Committee will meet as from next Thursday, and a key point on its agenda is the election of the Frelimo candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for 15 October.

Since he is now coming to the end of his second term of office, Guebuza is not eligible to stand again, and has repeatedly declared that he does not wish to amend the Mozambican constitution to grant him the possibility of a third term.

The Frelimo Political Commission has presented the Central Committee with a short list of three “pre-candidates” - Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco and Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi. In December, the party's general secretary Filipe Paunde declared at a press conference that this list was final, and there could be no more “pre-candidates”.

Paunde's position has been rejected by many senior Frelimo members, including a group who have sent a petition to the party's disciplinary body, the Verification Commission, denouncing the position taken by the Political Commission as a violation of the Frelimo statutes.

Former President Joaquim Chissano declared that the Central Committee is “sovereign” and that other names could still be put forward. The ACLLN meeting agreed and has called for more candidates to be added to the list.

In his first public remarks on the matter, Guebuza said “the Frelimo militant who is elected, as a human being, will naturally have omissions and virtues. But we pledge to unite around him and work with him to minimize and overcome his omissions”.

He stressed that it is vital that Frelimo should win the October general elections. “There is no alternative to victory”, he said, “and that victory should be convincing and overwhelming”.

Victory for Frelimo, he continued, would guarantee peace and the building of a better future for all Mozambicans. “We want to guarantee our victory, so that we can continue to value our hard won independence and sovereignty”, Guebuza said. “We want to guarantee our victory so that we can continue the actions under way to consolidate national unity, peace and social harmony”.

At the end of the meeting, Chissano told reporters he agreed that every party member should strengthen cohesion within Frelimo and support the candidate chosen by the Central Committee. Nobody was against the Political Commission's decision to submit the short list of three names, he added, “but it's better for us to create conditions so that everyone can have a say”.

Both Vaquina and Nyussi, interviewed by the independent television station STV, said they are not worried at the possibility of other names being proposed.

“It is not important that I emerge victorious, but that Frelimo finds the candidate it needs to win”, said Vaquina.

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