Mozambique: Assembly Refuses to Debate Bills on District Elections

Maputo, 23 Feb (AIM) – The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday rejected an attempt by the main opposition party, Renamo, to place the district elections, scheduled for 2024, on the agenda for the current Assembly sitting

At Renamo’s insistence, the 2019 package on decentralisation included elected district assemblies, and the first district elections would be held in 2024. Renamo succeeded in putting this into an amendment to the Constitution that was unanimously passed.

But there is still no legal framework for the district elections, and until parliament passes such a framework, the elections cannot be held. The Constitution merely states that the elections will be held in 2024. It says nothing about what powers, if any, the district assemblies will have, and does not even state how many members will sit in each assembly.

There is considerable scepticism about the district assemblies, and President Filipe Nyusi has called for a nationwide reflection on whether they should be held or not.

The Renamo bills would produce a set of rules for electing members of the district assemblies, and an institutional framework for the districts.

Initially these bills were placed on the parliamentary agenda – but the Assembly’s governing board, its Standing Commission, withdrew them. At the start of Wednesday’s session, Renamo spokesperson Jose Manteigas said he could not understand why bills that were on the agenda had been withdrawn.

The Renamo attempt to reinstate the bills failed because the ruling Frelimo Party, with its huge majority in parliament, voted against.

The spokesperson for the Frelimo parliamentary group, Feliz Silvia, declared “We voted against, because we believe this is a demagogic exercise about a matter which is already under public debate”.

He pointed out that Nyusi, in his State of the Nation Address, had called on all Mozambicans “to discuss the need for an inclusive reflection on the district elections”.

But both Renamo and the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), claimed the district elections, and the legislation needed to make them possible, were “matters of national interest”.

Refusing to include the bills on the agenda “is to deny democracy”, claimed the MDM. “It is a dangerous retreat to the days of the one party state”.


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