Maputo, 20 Dec (AIM) – The Nampula City Court, in northern Mozambique, on Tuesday suspended from office the city’s mayor, Paulo Vahanle.
According to the independent television station STV, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has accused Vahanle of inciting collective disobedience through an appeal to the use of arrows in order to contest the municipal election results, which Renamo regards as fraudulent.
The mention of arrows refers to a rally that Vahanle addressed at a municipal sports field in mid-November.
He displayed traditional weapons such as spears and bows and arrows, and declared that, although Renamo has no guns, it is ready to use “rudimentary weapons” to fight against what it regards as fraudulent election results.
Speaking to reporters, Vahanle said he referred to traditional weapons at his rally to remind his listeners that the Renamo flag contains images of arrows. He added that “when the opposition tells the truth and claims its rights, it receives treatment from the authorities that is not appropriate”.
He claimed he had used the rally to ask for respect from the police and from the ruling Frelimo Party. “We don’t want killings or provocations”, said Vahanle. “We are claiming a right enshrined in the Constitution. The police are not authorized to kill”.
He alleged that the police “are at the forefront to kill off democracy. If Mozambicans feel agitated by my statements, I don’t think they should be. We are saying: take care, Renamo is resistant and it has arrows on its flag. Stop killing us, because one day we might revolt against you”.
“We are not inciting violence”, Vahanle declared. “We are saying that the citizens of Nampula have a right to life”.
Reacting to his suspension on Tuesday night, Vahanle said “a police issue is being transformed into a judicial case”. He added that he had tried to explain the meaning of his words, but the prosecutors did not want to listen.
He is the second mayor, elected on the Renamo ticket in 2018, who has been suspended from office. The first was Raul Novinte, mayor of the port city of Nacala, who was not only suspended but placed under house arrest, accused of incitement, because of his role in the demonstrations against the election results.