Maputo, 25 Aug (AIM) – The Mayor of the northern Mozambican city of Nampula, Paulo Vahanle, has accused a member of the Unit for the Protection of High-ranking Individuals (UPAI), a branch of the Mozambican Police (PRM), of attempting to murder him.
Vahanle, who presented a firearm and 15 rounds of ammunition supposedly seized from the alleged assassin, told reporters on Thursday that, on 22 August, when the municipality was celebrating the 67th anniversary of its elevation to the status of a city, his security detained a member of the UPAI.
“The detained man confessed the crime and he said that he would suffer, or be killed (for failing the attempt) with the Minister of Labour (Margarida Talapa), and we don’t understand what motives would lead the Minister of Labour to this mission”, he said.
This was the first statement by Vahanle on the alleged assassination attempt, although reports had been circulating in Nampula for the previous 48 hours.
Vahanle is a member of the main opposition party, Renamo, and he was elected Mayor of Nampula in 2018. He is standing for a further term of office in the municipal elections scheduled for 11 October.
Vahanle’s predecessor, Mahamudo Amurrane, was murdered in October 2017, and Vahanle says he is stepping up his security to ensure that he does not share Amurrane’s fate.
One of those protecting Vahanle is a member of the UPAI, who says he recognised his colleague, but was unaware of the reasons for his presence at the scene.
“There are issues that make us very worried”, said the Mayor. “The first is that this force [UPAI] that brought this weapon is installed in the back yard of the FRELIMO party’s leader [Manuel Rodrigues, who is also Governor of Nampula province], and this leader and the entire top management of the Frelimo party has not been present at any time during the 67th anniversary festivities of our city”.
However, the spokesperson for the Nampula Provincial Police Command, Zacarias Nacute, denied that there was any attempt to assassinate Vahanle. He admitted that the man seized by Renamo is a member of the police, but claimed that he is a plain clothes officer assigned to protect the mayor and the population, during the anniversary celebrations.
“It must be made clear that the police, in the context of guaranteeing public order and security, has various ways of operating and one of them is to allocate officers in plain clothes without this arousing the suspicions of individuals who might want to commit an offence. Unfortunately, we had this situation and we reiterate that this is an officer who was duly assigned”, Nacute said.
He lamented that the Renamo members, instead of contacting the police, had grabbed the plain clothes officer and took him into their own custody.