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Info Diário /File photo) / Eduardo Mulembwe
A meeting of the parliamentary group of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party ended on Monday night with a sudden declaration by Eduardo Mulémbwè, the former chairperson of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that Frelimo will be at the side of President Filipe Nyusi“ until 2024”.
This was a declaration that Nyusi will be the Frelimo candidate in the next presidential election, scheduled for 2019.
“In this boat, Comrade President is the helmsman”, declared Mulémbwè, in a speech broadcast by the independent television channel STV. “We are saying that we set out on this boat in 2015 (when Nyusi was sworn into office for his first term, and we will be with you until we reach our port of destination in 2024”.
The meeting of the parliamentary group was chaired by Nyusi, in his capacity as President of Frelimo, and was attended by members of the government and of the Frelimo Political Commission. It was called to discuss the performance of the Frelimo group and, in Nyusi’s words in his opening speech, it was an attempt “to bring still closer together the Party leadership and the parliamentary group”, to ensure that they are all “singing the same tune”.
The meeting was not called to discuss who would be Frelimo candidate in 2019, and had no legitimacy at all to take such a decision.
Under the Frelimo statutes, only the Frelimo Central Committee can decide on the Party’s Presidential candidate. The Central Committee chose Nyusi as candidate on 1 March 2014, less than nine months before the election.
The term of office of the current Central Committee runs out later this year, and a new Central Committee will be elected at Frelimo’s 11th Congress, scheduled for September. Whether Mulembue acted alone, or was backed by other members of the parliamentary group, he certainly had no right to pre-empt a decision of a Central Committee that has yet to be elected.
Other Frelimo members are also entitled to put their names forward for consideration. In 2014, four other candidates stood in the Central Committee election, which took two rounds, with Nyusi beating former Prime Minister Luisa Diogo in the second round.