Mozambique: Constitutional Council Rejects Renamo Appeal

Maputo — The Constitutional Council, Mozambique's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, has rejected the appeal by the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, seeking to disqualify four candidates for provincial governor proposed by the ruling Frelimo Party for the forthcoming provincial elections.

Renamo said, accurately enough, that these four candidates had registered as voters in provinces other than the ones where they are standing. The four are:

1. Francisca Tomas, candidate for governor of Manica. Registered in Niassa where she is currently governor.

2. Julio Parruque, candidate for governor of Maputo province. Registered in Cabo Delgado, where he is governor.

3. Manuel Rodrigues, candidate for governor of Nampula. Registered in Manica, where he is governor.

4. Judite Massangele, candidate for governor of Niassa, Registered in Nampula.

In addition, Renamo wanted to disqualify Olavo Deniasse, a Frelimo candidate for the Manica provincial assembly who was not registered in that province.

All had registered as voters for the 2018 municipal elections, but none had sought to transfer their registration to the provinces where they intend to compete this year (which they could have done during the April-May voter registration period).

Renamo argued that, since people can vote only in the province where they registered, it must also be true that candidates can only stand in the provinces where they are registered.

But the Constitutional Council pointed out that the law had changed in May this year, with the removal of any specific residential requirement for candidates for provincial office. The earlier law on provincial assembly elections, passed in 2013, did indeed make it obligatory for candidates to run in the same province where they had registered as voters.

But this year the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, revoked the 2013 law.

The new law states that any candidate for governor, or for membership of an assembly, must be at least 18 years old, must be a registered voter, and must be eligible to stand (people not eligible to stand include soldiers on active service, magistrates, diplomats, members of the electoral bodies, and a range of other public officials). Crucially, this paragraph in the law says nothing about the candidates' residential status.

The Constitutional Council found the new law "unequivocal" and noted that the Assembly had passed it unanimously and by acclamation.

In other words, the Renamo parliamentary group had voted in favour of the new law, including its scrapping of the residential requirement for provincial candidates.

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