July 17, 2003

Electoral Coalition dissolved

The Electoral Union (UE), a coalition of minor opposition parties set up last February, with the purpose of competing in this year's municipal elections and next year's general elections, dissolved itself on Wednesday, July 16, at an extraordinary general meeting.

The UE was set up as an alternative to the Renamo-Electoral Union (R-UE), the coalition between the former rebel movement Renamo and the minor parties, which is the opposition in the Mozambican parliament. When Renamo announced that it intended to run on its own in the municipal elections, its former allies decided to set up a separate coalition.

But much has changed since February, and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama seems to have been persuaded of the virtues of maintaining Renamo's coalition with the small parties. The rationale for an Electoral Union without Renamo thus disappeared. The coalition suffered a mortal blow when its two most credible members, the National Convention Party (PCN), headed by Lutero Simango, and the Mozambican Nationalist Movement (MONAMO) of Maximo Dias, announced they were pulling out, and intended to fight the local elections alongside Renamo.

After the Wednesday meeting, the president of the Electoral Union, Manecas Daniel, who also heads the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), told reporters that the coalition had not lived up to expectations, and the conditions no longer existed for it to continue. A vote was taken, and the majority were in favour of dissolution. "Each party will take part in the elections as it sees fit", Daniel added. In most cases, this will mean begging for places on the Renamo lists.

Two parties, the Mozambique National Union (UNAMO), and the Mozambican Party of Democracy and Reconciliation (PAMOMO), abstained, on the grounds that they had no mandate to vote for or against dissolution. In fact, these two parties were bitterly opposed to renewing the alliance with Renamo. UNAMO general secretary Antonio Muanauange, walked out of the meeting before the end, complaining that the invitation he received said nothing about dissolving the coalition.

The PAMOMO leader, Albano Maiopue, told the independent newsheet "Vertical", that PAMOMO did not want to compete in the elections in isolation. That would be a last resort. "What we want is a coalition, to unite our forces, and we are working to that end", he said. He described the dissolution of the UE as "completely illegal". He claimed the coalition could only be dissolved by a unanimous decision of its members.

Carlos Reis, president of UNAMO, went further and suggested that the two dissident parties might appeal through the courts against the dissolution. "The UE can't be dissolved. We won't accept it. It's illegal", he declared.

Daniel, however, claimed it was PAMOMO who put the question of dissolution on the agenda, because of reports in the press about this possibility. At first, electoral strategy had been the first point on the agenda - but after the PAMOMO intervention, the main point became whether or not to dissolve the coalition. And once the vote was taken there was no point in discussing electoral strategy, or anything else. (AIM, Maputo)

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