Renamo goes to court over Gaza - Who was unprepared? - By Joseph Hanlon
A Chókwe court has provisionally bailed the 18 New Democracy delegates detained since October 15 in Xai-Xai. However, five Renamo and MDM members [arrested at the same time and on similar charges] remain in police custody.
The 18 members of the opposition New Democracy party, detained for 46 days since the election, were released on bail on Saturday, the party having been able to raise the €10,000 demanded by Chokwe court for their release.
“We have been able to gather the amount over the past five days through a fundraising campaign,” party representative Quitéria Gueringuane told Lusa.
The campaign proved necessary since neither the party nor the families of the detainees had the amount demanded – a sum generally beyond the means of most Mozambicans. The group, made up mostly of young people, was detained in Xai-Xai jail, in the provincial capital of Gaza.
The party and several international organisations had decried the amount set for bail as disproportionate, likewise lambasting the prolonged pre-trial detention over the alleged falsification of election observer credential, a charge denied by the party.
Dozens of Mozambican and international organisations have come together in recent weeks to repeat calls for their liberation, calling the detention of the New Democracy monitors a violation of human rights and an act of political intimidation.
The events took place in Chókwè, a locality in Gaza province, which is a stronghold of the ruling Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo).
“It is not enough for us to live in the illusion of provisional freedom. We will continue to fight until we and they are effectively free,” Quitéria Gueringuane said.
Counterfeiting and use of false documents
Five other party activists, from the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) and the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) remain in detention in Xai-xai prison on charges of forgery and using false documents.
A ruling on falsification of election documents, though not explicitly credentials, in Article 239 of Law 2/2019 of May 3 states that “he who in any way deceitfully replaces, suppresses, destroys or alters the registration books, ballot papers, minutes and notices of polling station tables or any other documents concerning election and tabulation, shall be punished with a fine of six to twelve national minimum wages.”
Luis Bitone, the chairman of Mozambique’s National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) believes that “consistent evidence” for the New Democracy detainees was lacking. “The evidence is not yet consistent for the detention. One must gather evidence and then make the detention decision,” he said.
The indictment was rebutted by New Democracy, which says it received the disputed documents from the authorities, and also by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a non-governmental organisation which links the arrests to the alleged refusal of the 18 ND members to collaborate in electoral fraud after a man offered them each 1,000 meticais (€14.00) to do so.Source: Deutsche Welle