Cablegate: Mozambique: Socio-Political Digest

DE RUEHTO #0651/01 1621601
R 111601Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Mozambique: Socio-Political Digest

1. (U) This is a summary of significant socio-
political developments in Mozambique over the
past two months. We provide it as a supplement
to our other reporting.

-- Developments re March 22 Explosion at
Munitions Depot

-- PDD District Leader Defects to Frelimo

-- Police accused of executing three citizens

-- National Election Commission Members Selected

Developments re March 22 Explosion at Munitions
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (U) The Commission of Inquiry set up by
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza reported
back on April 11 that the March 22 explosions at
the military arsenal in a Maputo suburb were
caused by a combination of factors, including the
obsolescence of the material stored in the
arsenal, poor storage conditions (exposure to the
elements - sun, rain, heat and cold), and human
error. The Commission found no evidence to
suggest that the explosions were caused by
sabotage or by attempts to extract mercury from
the munitions stored in the arsenal.

3. (U) The Commission discovered that soldiers at
the depot lacked manuals and therefore did not
know the useful life of the munitions.
Inspections consisted of simply looking at the
boxes containing munitions (or at the munitions
not in boxes). The soldiers carrying out this
task had no technical support, and no attempt was
made to verify the contents of the boxes nor
check on the state of their contents. The report
stated that the munitions were stored in a
warehouse that had no roof.

4. (U) Mozambican Defense Minister Tobias Dai,
speaking to reporters, said it would cost about
600 million meticais (USD 24 million) to build
new storage facilities at sites away from major
cities. (Note - Munitions also are stored in
suburbs in several other Mozambican cities. End
note.) Dai claimed the government was already
working to raise funds.

5. (U) During April, the government released
"final figures" on casualties and damage from the
explosions. According to its tally, the death
toll was 104 people killed. Some 515 others were
injured and sought medical assistance, and 80 of
these lost limbs. Approximately 4,500 houses
were damaged or destroyed.

PDD District Leader Defects to Frelimo

6. (U) Mozambique's third largest political
party, PDD (Party for Peace Democracy and
Development), suffered a serious blow in April
with the defection of the head of its political
commission in Sofala, Conceicao Frechaut, to the
ruling Frelimo Party.

7. (U) She had once been a Frelimo member,
switched her loyalty to the PDD, becoming a
member of the PDD National Political Commission,
but has now returned to Frelimo, a party she
referred to as "my father."

Police accused of executing three citizens

8. (U) The press devoted significant coverage to
an alleged extra-judicial execution in early
April of three people by the police. According
to accounts in the media, police using a vehicle
belonging to the Criminal Investigation Police
(PIC) took three citizens to a suburban Maputo
football field and shot them. Mozambique's Human
Rights League, an NGO, denounced the killings as

MAPUTO 00000651 002 OF 002

executions and urged an immediate investigation.
As a result, both the police and the Attorney-
General's office launched formal inquiries. The
three apparently were ordinary citizens without
any criminal record. The police concluded that
the victims were killed trying to escape. The
Attorney General's office stated that the victims
were shot in the back of the head at point blank
range, and gave the names of the three police
officers involved. The three accused policemen
are in jail awaiting trial. Family members
protested outside the jail in early June, saying
the policemen were only following orders from
higher ups.

National Elections Commission Members Selected
--------------------------------------------- -

9. (U) Mozambique's National Elections Commission
(CNE) on June 8 announced the names of the
successful candidates for the eight CNE places
reserved for representatives of civil society
organizations. Earlier, in May, the first five
members of the Commission were chosen -- three
picked by the ruling FRELIMO Party and two by the
main opposition party, RENAMO. The 13-member
Commission will oversee the upcoming provincial,
national and municipal elections.

10. (U) The eight civil society members were
chosen by a majority of the five political party
members (in effect, by FRELIMO) from among 62
candidates submitted by 22 civil society bodies.
Only one civil society organization, the
Electoral Observatory, brought together a large
number of civil society bodies in an attempt to
draw up an agreed slate for the CNE. Its
initiative was highly public, and transparent,
involving the formation of a jury, meetings with
all the provincial NGO forums, and a final phase
of private and public interviews of the
candidates who made it onto the Observatory's
short list. Only two of the candidates nominated
by the Observatory were selected.

11. (SBU) Comment: The selection of candidates
who had not been subjected to a transparent
process, presumably at the direction of Frelimo,
is a negative sign for the integrity of the
public elections process. Although several well
known journalists and a respected human rights
activist were nominated, those chosen are
relatively unknown and inexperienced.


© Scoop Media

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