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Spokesperson for the Zambezia Provincial Police Command, Sidner Lonzo. [File photo: O País]
The Mozambican police have denied that they attempted to assassinate the mayor of the central city of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, last Monday.
The incident happened during commemorations of Mozambican Heroes’ Day, the 51st anniversary of the death of the founder and first President of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), Eduardo Mondlane, on 3 February 1969.
After the formal speeches, Araujo headed a peaceful march through the streets of Quelimane. The police claimed the march was illegal, and the police used tear gas and opened fire to disperse the demonstrators.
Araujo is a prominent member of the main opposition party, Renamo. He was elected mayor of Quelimane in a by-election in 2011, when he was standing on the ticket of the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). He was re-elected in 2013 and again in 2018, by which time he had switched his allegiance from the MDM to Renamo.
Araujo’s supporters deny that there was anything illegal about the march. Cited in Friday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the Renamo Quelimane delegate, Latifo Charifo, said that marches are authorised by the municipal council – which is headed by Araujo.
“In the past we worked with the police”, Charifo said, “but I don’t know what’s been happening recently or what they want. The police always used to accompany us. So where does this order come from? I can’t understand it”.
Charifo accused the police of using live ammunition on Monday. Two bullets struck the tyres of Araujo’s vehicle. He was not in the car, but was mingling with the crowd of supporters.
Charifo was convinced that this was an assassination attempt. “When live ammunition is fired and punctures the tyres of our mayor’s car, what was the real intention?”, he asked.
The spokesperson for the Zambezia Provincial Police Command, Sidner Lonzo, said there had been no such intention. Interviewed by the German agency DW-Africa, he denied that any real bullets had been fired.
“To use live ammunition in the current, democratic context of Mozambique would be a gross failing”, Lonzo said, “which no member of the Mozambican police would commit, particularly because we have all the resources necessary to confront any riot”.
“At no time were firearms used to disperse the crowd, much less to kill anybody”, he insisted.Source: AIM
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