Mozambique: RENAMO still insists on "parity"

The Mozambican government delegation to the dialogue with the country’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has decided to end the fruitless discussion on “parity” in the electoral bodies between the Renamo and the ruling Frelimo Party.

Renamo had asked for an extraordinary session of the dialogue on Friday, but the government delegation was surprised to find that it was bringing nothing new, but merely insisting on the issue of parity.

The National Elections Commission, under the law passed last December, consists of 13 members. Eight of these are appointed by the political parties represented in parliament – five by Frelimo, two by Renamo and one by the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). This combined the principle that each party should appoint at least one CNE member, and that appointments should be in proportion to the number of seats held in parliament. (Frelimo holds 191 seats, Renamo 51 and the MDM eight).

In addition three CNE members come from civil society bodies, one is a judge appointed by the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistracy, and one is an attorney appointed by the Higher Council of the Public Prosecutors Office.

Throughout almost two years of discussion in a parliamentary working commission charged with amending the electoral laws and in discussions between the leaderships of the three parliamentary groups, Renamo insisted on “parity”.

Its final proposal was for a CNE of 14 members, all appointed by political parties – four by Frelimo, four by Renamo, four by the MDM and two by extra-parliamentary parties. This was a strange notion of parity, since it would be a CNE with an opposition majority of ten to four, and with no civil society representation at all.

The Renamo position was overwhelmingly defeated. The current bill was passed by 171 Frelimo and MDM deputies with 35 Renamo deputies voting against.

Despite this, in round after round of the dialogue, Renamo has continued to insist on “parity” with Frelimo in the CNE, and has refused to appoint its two CNE members. Furthermore, Renamo is insisting on politicisation of the CNE’s executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), which is the electoral branch of the civil service. Renamo wants political appointees at all levels of STAE looking over the shoulders of the election professionals.

The government delegation at the dialogue, headed by Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, has repeatedly rejected Renamo’s demand for “parity”, and just as repeatedly Renamo has insisted on it, and has refused to move onto other points on the agenda unless the government yields.

Pacheco told reporters that, despite requesting Friday’s extraordinary session, Renamo brought nothing new, and merely demanded yet again that the government sign up to a “political agreement” through which the Renamo proposal would be submitted to parliament.

The Renamo document on the electoral legislation contains 19 proposals, 12 of which the government has accepted – but Renamo wants all or nothing.

Pacheco accused Renamo of acting in bad faith by harping yet again on “parity”. He regarded the Renamo position as discriminating against forces other than Frelimo and Renamo and of violating the principle of proportionality.

“Faced with this, the government is not opposed to Renamo remitting its entire proposal, including the analysis made by the government of the 12 points with which it agrees, to the Assembly, so that it may decide upon it”, said Pacheco.

In the next round, scheduled for Monday, the government intends to return to the question of disarming Renamo. It regards this as an essential starting point before moving on to Renamo’s concerns about separating political parties from the state apparatus, and economic issues.

“We are willing to discuss any other question that might be relevant”, said Pacheco. The question of disarming Renamo, however, was of particular interest in order to oblige Renamo to follow the principle, established under the constitution, that political parties are not military organisations.

The Constitution states “political parties are forbidden from advocating or resorting to armed violence to change the social and political order of the country”. Despite this, Renamo still maintains, over 20 years after the 1992 peace agreement, an illegal security force, known as its “Presidential Guard”, and consisting of former guerrillas who were never demobilised.

Renamo is also still refusing to sign the minutes of previous rounds of the dialogue. The government thus says it has no option but to send the acts to the Renamo headquarters.

The Renamo delegation to the talks has no intention of discussing disarmament. The head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, told reporters “Renamo considers the solution of the electoral questions as fundamental, and remains open to reaching conclusions on this matter”.

“Without concluding this point, we cannot move on to subsequent matters”, he said. The mandate of the Renamo delegation was to reach a “political agreement” with the government, without which nothing further could be done.

Post published in: Africa News

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