18 June 2002

Frelimo Congress: Guebuza elected presidential candidate for 2004

As expected, the new Central Committee of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party has elected the head of the party's parliamentary group, Armando Guebuza, as Frelimo general secretary, and the party's candidate for the 2004 presidential election.

The outgoing Central Committee had recommended Guebuza's name, and it is no surprise that the new Central Committee, elected by the party's Eighth Congress, has confirmed the decision.

The Central Committee, elected by the Congress on Sunday, held its first meeting on Monday, June 18, afternoon to elect its officers, and the 15 member Political Commission, which is effectively the most powerful body in Frelimo.

There are five newcomers to the Political Commission: Transport Minister Tomas Salomao; the Minister for Veterans Affairs, and former chief of staff of the armed forces, Antonio Hama Thai; the governor of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, Jose Pacheco; the Minister for Women's Affairs and Social Welfare, Virgilia Matavele; and the former minister for social welfare, Alcinda Abreu. Abreu's election comes as a surprise, since President Joaquim Chissano sacked her from the government in March 1997.

Mariano Matsinha, a member of the core Frelimo leadership since the second congress in 1968, and a former security minister, leaves the Political Commission, as does another prominent veteran of the armed struggle, Feliciano Gundana, who is a former secretary-general of the party.

Also not re-elected were the major of Maputo, Artur Canana, Education Minister Alcido Nguenha, and the outgoing secretary for the party's finances, Laurinda Kanji.

The open feuding between Canana and the Maputo Municipal Assembly, chaired by Central Committee member Teodoro Waty, and the crisis in municipal management, most vividly expressed by the enormous piles of garbage in the streets of Maputo in late 2001, doubtless contributed to Canana's departure from the Political Commission.

The other ten members of the Political Commission retained their seats, including President Joaquim Chissano and Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi. The number of women on the Political Commission has risen from three to four. (AIM)

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