Islamist raids continue in Moza’s Mocimboa da Praia

Maputo – The new governor of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, Julio Parruque, has confirmed continued sporadic attacks by Islamic fundamentalists in the district of Mocimboa da Praia.

On 5-6 October armed Islamists attacked three police positions in the district. In these clashes two policemen and 14 of the raiders were killed. Addressing the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 1 November, Justice Minister Isaque Chande said 75 people had been arrested.

Cited in Monday’s issue of the independent news-sheet “Mediafax”, Parruque admitted that smaller scale raids have continued in recent days. Last Thursday, a group armed with firearms, machetes and knives attacked the villages of Mutumbati and Megulo, killing two people and injuring a further two.

The raiders also burnt down 25 houses. Terrified villagers have abandoned their homes and sought safety in Mocimboa da Praia town.

Parruque urged them to return, because the situation is now calm, and the defence and security forces are on the ground to protect them.

“Given the seriousness of the situation,” said Parruque, “we think it important to take up positions to eliminate this evil definitively, and return tranquillity to our population. This is a challenge that puts us to the test.”

Parruque urged local leaders to cooperate fully with the government. He thought it possible to eliminate completely the Islamist group “and we have every interest in ensuring that this happens”.

The Mocimboa da Praia district government has identified the two leaders of the group as Nuro Adremaane and Jafi Alawi, who are both Mozambicans and own a mosque in Mocimboa. The current whereabouts of the two men are unknown.

Presenting a report to Parruque on his arrival in Mocimboa da Praia, the district government said the aim of the group is to discredit the government and set up its own administrative region, outside the reach of the provincial and central governments.

The fundamentalists, the report said, had studied religion in Tanzania, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, but outside of the control of any Mozambican institutions.

They had also received military training (though it is not clear where this took place).

The local government also expressed disappointment at the behaviour of the Mocimboa da Praia district court, which has released the people detained after the October attacks. The government feared that, once back in their communities, they would create further disturbances.

The report said that the fundamentalist group consists mostly of Mozambicans from Mocimboa da Praia, Palma and Macomia districts, but also includes some Tanzanians and Somalis.

Meanwhile, the ruling Frelimo Party last Friday became the first party to submit its nomination papers for the mayoral by-election in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula, scheduled for 24 January.

The Frelimo national election agent, Veronica Macamo, delivered the papers to the headquarters of the National Elections Commission (CNE) in Maputo.

The bulk of the documentation delivered by Macamo consists of 6,000 signatures from Nampula voters, supporting the Frelimo candidate, Amisse Culolo – almost twice as many as the number legally required (one per cent of the registered electorate).

“We had more signatures, but we preferred to take just 6,000,” said Macamo, cited in Monday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.

Speaking to reporters, Macamo said she is confident that Culolo will win. “We feel that the people of Nampula are with Frelimo,” she said. “Victory is certain”.

Frelimo had controlled Nampula city up until the municipal elections of 2013, when the candidate of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), Mahamudo Amurane, swept to victory, and the MDM also won an absolute majority in the Nampula Municipal Assembly.

Macamo said that Frelimo has reflected on its 2013 defeat and guaranteed that the party is going into the by-election much better prepared. “In democracy, this sort of surprise is normal,” she said. “It’s normal to lose this or that municipality. But just because we lost Nampula in 2013 doesn’t mean we’re going to lose it again.”

The by-election was precipitated by the assassination of Amurane on 4 October, a murder that is as yet unsolved.

Both the main opposition parties, the rebel movement Renamo and the MDM, have pledged to stand candidates, but have yet to deliver the nomination papers.

The leader of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), Daviz Simango, told reporters in the northern city of Nampula on Monday that no decision has yet been taken on whether he will be the MDM candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for 2019, or whether he will run for a fourth term as Mayor of Beira in the municipal elections of 2018.

Simango, who was in Nampula for the second congress of the MDM, due to start on Tuesday, said that, as the founder of the party, he is currently advising all MDM members who so wish to present their own candidacies.

“My advice is for many people to compete”, he said, “because when we founded the party it was to bring more people forward.

We are pleased that we have complied with that mission and that more people can participate in democracy in the country”.

The MDM spokesperson, Sande Carmona, told AIM “the Congress is sovereign and these matters will be discussed so that the party is organised to compete in the next elections, both municipal and general. As for the Nampula mayoral by-election (scheduled for 24 January), the Political Commission will make all the essential recommendations”.

Preparations for the Congress are going ahead smoothly, said Carmona. “1,300 delegates will be present”, he added, “and 200 national guests and international guests from friendly parties”.

During the Congress, the MDM plans to revise its statues and its programme for government.

It will elect the members of the MDM national council and the party’s president. There is no serious doubt that Simango will be re-elected MDM President. – AIM

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