Assembly plenary postponed again
Photo: Sala da Paz
The Election Observation Mission from the European Union, which is observing the Mozambican general and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October, has strongly condemned Monday’s assassination of Anastacio Matavel, the Executive Director of the Forum of NGOs in the southern province of Gaza (FONGA).
Matavel was also the Gaza focal point for the coalition of Mozambican election observation bodies known as Sala da Paz (Peace Room), and an EU press release of Tuesday describes him as “a key figure in Mozambican election observation”.
The EU points out that observation “is a fundamental component of a credible election. Any act which affects or limits the capacity of national observers to play their essential role is an unacceptable obstacle to the transparency of the elections and to respect for the participation of citizens in the country’s public life”.
“Violent confrontations between supporters of the various political parties have continued during the election campaign, without any strong, clear and consistent condemnation by the political leaders, and by the relevant authorities”, the EU added.
The release urged the Mozambican authorities “to take the necessary measures to mitigate electoral violence and to promote a safe environment for holding and observing the elections on 15 October”.
The US embassy also strongly condemned the assassination and urged the authorities “to undertake a complete investigation to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime.”
The fairness and credibility of election results, the embassy release continued, “depend on the capacity of all Mozambican voters, candidates and observers, to participate at all stages of a safe electoral process, without restrictions and free of hostilities”.
“We urge that all efforts be made to avoid tensions and facilitate full participation, so as to promote the vibrant democracy which is an essential basis for peace and prosperity”, concluded the release.
The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), in its latest newsletter, said that the murder of Matavel “simply seeks to intimidate civil society, and to prevent it from carrying out its task of ensuring that the elections take place in an environment of calm, freedom and justice, which would make them credible”.
Attempts to prevent civil society bodies from observing the elections, MISA added, “can only mean there is a plan to prevent the elections from being held in accordance with the standards of democracy and freedom”.
MISA considered the assassination “a direct assault on freedom of expression and of association”.
All these condemnations were clearly written shortly before the General Command of the Mozambican police force, at a Tuesday press conference in Maputo, admitted that the death squad consisted of four policemen and one civilian.
The four police were from the Special Operations Group (GOE), of the Raid Intervention Force (FIR – the Mozambican Riot Police). The general commander of the police, Bernadino Rafael, has suspended from duty the Gaza commanders of the FIR and GOE.
The death squad was exposed only because other police, who seem to have had nothing to do with the murder, gave chase to the assassins’ getaway car as it sped away from the scene of the crime. The car entered the main north-south highway (N1) at high speed, crashed into two other vehicles and overturned.
Two of the killers died in the crash, one is receiving medical care in the Gaza Provincial Hospital, one is in police custody, and the fifth escaped.
The General Command said the identities of all members of the death squad are known, but it did not name them. However, two of the names were already circulating on the Internet. The man in hospital is said to be Euclidio Mapulasse and the man in custody has been named as Edson Silica. Photos of Silica posing in his police uniform have also circulated on Mozambican social media.
#Mozambique British High Commission issues press statement on death of Anastacio Matavel – Unabridged https://t.co/YAYxuVsc5I #Mozambique #MozambiqueElections #MOzambiqueElections2019 @UKinMozambique pic.twitter.com/8C3XFLGR8G
— Club of Mozambique (@clubOmozambique) October 8, 2019
The UN Mozambique condemns the killing of civil society member Mr Anastacio Matavel this past Tuesday 7 Oct. We welcome the Mozambican authorities commitment to a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation and highlight the importance of bringing those responsible to justice. pic.twitter.com/2VwAfS3jM0
— Nações Unidas em Moçambique (@ONUMocambique) October 9, 2019
Nuvunga diz que assassinato de Matavel é acto intimidação contra observadores https://t.co/bCUXq7v5Ur
— Manuel de Araujo (@alculete1970) October 9, 2019
The apparent involvement of Mozambican police in killing an election observer is a chilling development that casts a dark shadow over next week’s elections, @HRW says. https://t.co/QINvmBkFFk pic.twitter.com/lCLI10i2x8
— Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) October 9, 2019
— @proudly_moz (@proudly_moz) October 7, 2019
#Mozambique elections: CIP condemns murder of Anastacio Matavele as attack on observation – By Joseph Hanlonhttps://t.co/mfeR0ZQ5QS#MozambiqueElections #MozambiqueElections2019 #SADC #Africa @CIP_Eleicoes pic.twitter.com/dNeyeCiwyd
— Club of Mozambique (@clubOmozambique) October 7, 2019
Assembly plenary postponed again