Maputo — Long motorcades of members and supporters of Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, paraded through the central city of Quelimane on Thursday morning, celebrating the party's victory in Wednesday's municipal elections.
The Renamo celebrations made it difficult to move on some of the city's main thoroughfares, notably the regional highway linking the centre of Quelimane to Zalala beach.
The full Quelimane result is not yet available, but nobody has any serious doubt that Renamo won. The polling station results sheets seen by AIM make that clear
Thus in four polling stations in the Coalane primary school, Renamo took 1,360 votes, to 549 for the ruling Frelimo party, and only 58 for the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which used to govern Quelimane.
Renamo was clearly winning on the periphery of the city, but Frelimo was still able to score victories in some polling stations, in the more developed part of Quelimane, near the centre of the city.
Thus in eight polling stations in the Quelimane Complete Primary School, which is located directly in front of the provincial and municipal government offices, Frelimo took 2,541 votes, to 1,825 for Renamo and 195 for the MDM.
The MDM's collapse in Quelimane is largely due to the betrayal of the city's mayor, Manuel de Araujo. Araujo owes his political career to the MDM - he ran for mayor in a 2011 by-election on the MDM ticket and won. Two years later, in the 2013 municipal elections, he ran again for Renamo, and easily defeated his Frelimo opponent.
For Wednesday's elections, the MDM Quelimane membership wanted him to stand again, and the MDM leadership endorsed this. But in July, Araujo not only defected from the MDM to Renamo but agreed to run as the Renamo mayoral candidate. To rub salt in the MDM's wounds, he referred to his previous party as "a party of bandits", although he had been a leading member of it for the previous decade.
But it is by no means certain that Araujo can continue as Mayor of Quelimane. In late August, the government sacked him, citing an article in the law on the administrative supervision of municipalities which states that any elected municipal official who joins a party other than the one for which he was elected, automatically loses his job. Furthermore, a person in that position cannot stand in the next round of municipal elections.
Araujo appealed against the government's decision to the Administrative Tribunal, which has yet to rule on the matter. If the Tribunal finds against Araujo, he cannot be mayor, and that position will go to the second name on the list of Renamo candidates for the Quelimane Municipal Assembly.