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Manuel de Araújo, elected mayor of the city of Quelimane in the 2018 municipal elections. Photo: DW
Manuel de Araújo, Quelimane mayor-elect chosen in the 2018 municipal elections, is determined to follow the [Constitutional Council’s] ruling that proclaims him mayor and take office. His understanding is that, from the point of view of the law, there is no lack of clarity.
Mayors elected in Mozambique’s October 10, 2018, municipal elections take office this Thursday. However, there remains some doubt as to whether the mayor of Quelimane will do the same.
It all started when the Council of Ministers decreed in August 2018 that Manuel de Araújo had forfeited his post as Quelimane mayor when he ran for the local elections as the Renamo (Mozambican National Resistance) candidate while still serving as mayor for the MDM (Movement for Democracy, Mozambique’s second-largest opposition force).
The grounds for the Council of Ministers’ decision was that Araújo had violated Point Six of the new Autarchic Law. Araújo appealed to the Administrative Tribunal, which rejected his appeal, and Araújo vacated his position in January. Quelimane is provisionally led by the president of the Municipal Assembly, Domingos Albuquerque.
But what was not clear in the Administrative Tribunal ruling is whether or not Araujo can legitimately take office tomorrow, February 7. DW Africa interviewed Araújo about the uncertainty and tension in Quelimane.
DW Africa: Will you take office as mayor of Quelimane on February 7?
Manuel de Araújo (MA): I have not yet received any information from the government either confirming or cancelling [the inauguration].
DW Africa: Faced with this lack of clarity regarding your inauguration, what do you intend to do
MA: By my reading of Mozambique’s Constitution, given that the Constitutional Council has not so far issued any statement or ruling contrary to the ruling that proclaims me president of Quelimane Municipal Council, I am calm and I am preparing for the inauguration.
DW Africa: However, it is not legally clear whether you are in a position to take office for a new term …
MA: Legally, it’s clear. What has happened is that our system of justice is stuck and, instead of complying with what is established in the Constitution, tries to find readings with a party flavour. Now, when justice responds to political expedience, we are left in this situation where we are now, in which people want to make an interpretation according to their party allegiance and not according to what the mother law, which is the Constitution of the Republic, establishes. It is clear, therefore, that with rulings of the Constitutional Council, there is no possibility of appeal, and, to my knowledge, even the Constitutional Council itself cannot go back on its own rulings. If this is clear in the Constitution, I do not understand why there is any confusion. The only explanation is that people want to interpret the mother law based on party allegiance.
DW Africa: Do you think it’s a kind of “mousetrap” or plot to leave you in a tight spot at the last moment?
MA: I have no doubt it’s just such an attempt. But the citizens of Quelimane are prepared and will respond in due course.
DW Africa: And, speaking of the residents of Quelimane, this Tuesday (05.02) they demonstrated in support of you, but the police repressed the demonstration and attacked some of the marchers. What is your assessment of the police action?
MA: It does not surprise me. In fact, The Economist magazine itself said three weeks ago that Mozambique is an authoritarian country, where the Constitution of the Republic is not respected, where fundamental freedoms are disregarded and the will of the government supersedes both the courts and the legislature. Therefore, the practical rule of law in Mozambique is a fantasy, something we unfortunately can no longer say we have. I think it is important for each of us to play our role in restoring the democratic rule of law. Democracy in Mozambique is in danger.
DW Africa: Given the growing tension in the city of Quelimane, what do you expect to happen on Thursday, the day of the inauguration?
MA: Right now, I’m on the plane steps. I’m going to Quelimane. When I’m there I’ll be able to give you the answer to that question.Source: Deutsche Welle