Maputo — The Mozambican police on Tuesday once again prevented Venancio Mondlane, the candidate of the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, from marching through the streets of Maputo.
Mondlane and his supporters, waving Renamo flags and banners, gathered at Maputo's Square to the Mozambican Heroes, but they were not allowed to begin their march.
Speaking to the independent television station STV, Mondlane said this was the fourth time the police had prevented him from undertaking political work.
He had no doubt that the police were being used. "This is a very serious situation", he said. It's political intolerance. It's political party fundamentalism, and I think something must be done to end this".
Mondlane told STV he had asked the police the legal basis for stopping his supporters from marching, but they could only say that they were following orders. The police officer in question "told me he didn't know what the legal basis was", Mondlane added. "I consider this serious, because the man who is safeguarding law and order, doesn't even know the law on which his attitudes are based. He says he doesn't know the law, but he has received orders".
The justification given last week, by a Maputo district election official, for the ban, is that the election campaign period has not yet started. Until the official campaign is launched, campaigning activities will not be allowed.
But Mondlane protested that no obstacles are put in the way of campaigning by the ruling Frelimo Party. Indeed, a few minutes' walk away from the Renamo gathering, the Frelimo mayoral candidate, Eneas Comiche, was speaking with stallholders and clients at the largest market in the inner-city neighbourhood of Malhangalene - which could easily be classified as a campaign activity, even though it did not involve any marching.
The National Elections Commission (CNE) has declared that Mondlane is not eligible to be the Renamo mayoral candidate, but Renamo is contesting this, and has appealed to the Constitutional Council, the country's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law.