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The Nampula City Court in northern Mozambique on Monday sentenced the interim mayor of Nampula, Manuel Tocova, to three months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for the crime of disobedience, reports the independent television station STV.
The Nampula branch of the Public Prosecutor’s Office charged Tocova with disobedience when he refused to supply documents on the dismissals and appointment of Nampula city councillors, and rejected the warning that he had no power to sack councillors.
The claim by the radio station “Voice of America” that Tocova was also charged with the murder of Nampula mayor Mahamudo Amurane on 4 October is entirely untrue.
Tocova is chairperson of the Nampula Municipal Assembly, and, under the country’s municipal legislation, he automatically became interim mayor following the death of Amurane.
But the legislation limits the power of interim mayors. In the period between the death of a mayor and the holding of a new election, the interim mayor is only empowered to undertake routine acts of day-to-day management, and not to shake up the composition of the municipal council.
However Tocova sacked most of the councillors who had worked with Amurane. When the Public Prosecutor warned him that this was illegal, he did not retreat and a week ago he swore into office ten new councillors and six head of Nampula administrative posts. Some of those he appointed had served under Amurane, but were accused of acts of corruption and dismissed.
Last week Tocova accused the Public Prosecutor’s Office of trying to intimidate him, and declared that he would not rescind the appointments. He claimed that those who had worked with Amurane were trying to sabotage him.
If, after Monday’s trial, Tocova still fails to reverse his decisions and reinstate the councillors he sacked, he is likely to be thrown into prison.
Most of the newly appointed councillors are, like Tocova, members of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). Amurane was also an MDM member, but immediately prior to his assassination he was locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with the rest of the MDM leadership. Amurane claimed this was because he would not tolerate corruption, and refused to use municipal assets for political party purposes.
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