Mozambique: Central Committee Postpones Choice of Presidential Candidate

Maputo — The Central Committee of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party ended a two day meeting in the southern city of Matola on Saturday night, without taking any decision as to who will succeed Filipe Nyusi as the leader of the party - and as Frelimo's likely candidate in the presidential election scheduled for 9 October.

The question of the succession was not on the meeting's original agenda - but clearly became a major topic of discussion, particularly after a respected veteran of the independence war, Oscar Monteiro, declared that the presidential candidate was the most important issue that should be discussed.

Monteiro spoke on Thursday, at a meeting of the national committee of the Association of Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle (ACLLN), which immediately preceded the Central Committee meeting.

"There is an elephant in the room, and that elephant is the elections', he said. Frelimo was "very late' in announcing the names of possible presidential candidates, and this delay might cost it dear at the ballot box.

The Central Committee did not select a candidate - but it did promise to do so in the very near future.

At his speech on Saturday night closing the meeting, Nyusi announced that the party's Political Commission would meet within a matter of days. It would receive proposals of names for the Frelimo presidential candidate, and would channel them to the Central Committee.

Under the Party's statutes, it is the Central Committee which chooses the candidate.

"We hope, as was decided, that within a few days this process will come to a conclusion', said Nyusi. "The Political Commission will submit to the Central Committee the proposals for the Frelimo candidate for the Presidency, as soon as possible, bearing in mind the electoral calendar'.

At the meeting, he said, "we had open, frank and profound debates even on themes which, at first sight, seemed complex, such as the question of the succession to the Presidency of the Republic. But, once again, the comrades of the Central Committee were able to focus on the debates without emotions. Frelimo is a mature party, which is now 60 years old, and knows how to handle processes of transformation within the party'.

Nyusi did not announce an exact date, either for the Political Commission meeting or for the extraordinary meeting of the Central Committee that will take the final decision.

The Frelimo spokesperson, Ludmila Maguni, claimed that nobody had yet submitted nomination papers for the Presidency. However, last week one Central Committee member, Samora Machel Junior, son of the country's first President, Samora Machel, announced that he is a "pre-candidate' for the Presidency, and distributed his election manifesto to the media.

Parliamentary and provincial elections will also be held on 9 October. The Central Committee approved a directive, under which the secretaries of the Frelimo provincial committees will submit to the Political Commission a list of two or three names for provincial governor.

Once these lists are approved by the Political Commission, the provincial committees will elect the candidates for governor, who will head the Frelimo lists for membership of the provincial assemblies.

"This approach is an important step in deepening inner-party democracy', said Nyusi. "This is an important pillar of decentralization, a pillar in which Frelimo has been a pioneer'.

Nyusi urged Frelimo members "to continue to forge a cohesive and strong Frelimo, that will continue to be a vanguard in the promotion of national unity, and the defence of the constitutionally enshrined freedoms of citizens'.

He wanted to see the party strengthen the political and ideological training of its members, and urged the Central Committee Secretariat to explore the opportunities for ideological training at the Julius Nyerere School in Tanzania.

"It is important to strengthen cooperation amongst the friendly parties of the region because we share common challenges', Nyusi said.

He declared that the financial sustainability of Frelimo is a priority to ensure the electoral logistics of the party. He called on all members to make additional contributions to the functional of the party machinery in an election year.

The Central Committee called on all Frelimo members who hold leadership positions in government bodies to redouble their efforts to comply with the promises made to the public.

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