Maputo — Five people are in the race to become the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party for the Mozambican presidential election, scheduled for 15 October, and nominations have now closed.
On Saturday morning, Damiao Jose, the spokesperson for the meeting of the Frelimo Central Committee which will elect the candidate, told reporters that the definitive nominations were from:
Alberto Vaquina (Prime Minister)
Jose Pacheco (Agriculture Minister)
Filipe Nyussi (Defence Minister)
Luisa Diogo (former Prime Minister - 2004-2010)
Aires Ali (former Prime Minister - 2010-2012).
Vaquina, Pacheco and Nyussi were all proposed as “pre-candidates” in December by the Frelimo Political Commission. The then general secretary, Filipe Paunde, said there was “no space” for any more pre-candidates - a position loudly rejected by many prominent Frelimo figures, including former President Joaquim Chissano, and the Association of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle (ACLLN).
Diogo and Ali submitted their nominations on Thursday, and Paunde submitted his resignation - meaning that this meeting of the Central Committee must elect not only a presidential candidate but also a new General Secretary.
Contrary to initial speculation, the former speaker of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Eduardo Mulembue, has not submitted his nomination, and there is no time left for him to do so.
Jose said there was a cut-off time, because ballot papers must be printed for the secret ballot election.
The election was initially scheduled for 11.00 on Saturday, but has been delayed until the afternoon. Jose said this was because the debates on the reports (from the Political Commission, the Secretariat, and the disciplinary body, the Verification Commission) have taken longer than scheduled.
Unlike proceedings at the Frelimo Tenth Congress, held in 2012 in the northern city of Pemba, when speakers were limited to three minutes each, at the Central Committee no time limit has been imposed. Jose said that President Armando Guebuza, who is chairing the meeting, was allowing Central Committee members to speak for as long as they liked.
By the end of the morning, it was still not clear in what order the elections would be held - whether or not the Central Committee would elect a new secretariat, before moving on to choose the presidential candidate.