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Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang has resigned as a Member of the Assembly of the Republic and has lost the immunity inherent in the post, the chairperson of the Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament, Veronica Macamo announced today.
Manuel Chang has been detained since December 29 of last year in South Africa in connection with an extradition request issued by a US court, which is seeking to try the former minister for his role in the hidden debt scandal.
Chang is also the target of an extradition request from Mozambican justice organs, which are also seeking his testimony.
At the opening of the plenary session of the Assembly of the Republic this morning, Verónica Macamo announced that Manuel Chang had sent a letter communicating his resignation as a deputy, to which post he was elected in 2014 by the ruling Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo party).
Manuel Chang will be replaced in parliament by Maria Helena Jonas, former governor of Maputo province.
South Africa’s current Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, said last week that he did not understand Mozambique’s request to extradite Manuel Chang, because the former finance minister enjoyed immunity as a deputy and had not been formally charged.
Ronald Lamola’s position runs counter to the decision of his predecessor Michael Masutha, who had decided to repatriate Manuel Chang to Mozambique, to the detriment of the US claim.
The detention and extradition request of Manuel Chang is related to his role in providing government guarantees for just over US$2 billion in loans (over 1.7 billion euros) in favour of public Mozambican maritime safety and fishing companies, but in breach of Assembly of the Republic and Administrative Court regulations.
The ‘ hidden debts’ operation is the subject of lawsuits in Mozambique and the US, which found that the country’s laws has been broken, and several people, including international bankers, are being detained for their alleged involvement in the scandal.
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— Gabriel Seakamela (@GabrielMothiba) July 19, 2019