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Cablegate: Parliament Opens for 2004

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000295

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
DEPT FOR AF/S
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PINR MZ
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT OPENS FOR 2004

REF: A. A. 03 MAPUTO 1765

B. B. 03 MAPUTO 1604
C. C. MAPUTO 220
D. D. MAPUTO 083

1. (U) On March 1, the GRM opened its 10th session of
Parliament, during which President Chissano is expected to
make his final address to the body before stepping down at
the end of the year. At the same time, the 2004
presidential-hopefuls, Afonso Dhlakama (RENAMO) and Armando
Guebuza (FRELIMO), took to the roads and held press
conferences on hot Mozambican political topics: Dhlakama on
the growing issue of trafficking in persons, Guebuza on the
need to attract more foreign investment (REF A, B). These
events signaled the start of the 2004 political year in
Mozambique, one that will measure the maturity and success of
Mozambican democracy, as the two major political parties will
compete in national elections, a new president will be named,
and a new GRM instated. Also noteworthy in 2004 was the
appointment of a new Prime Minister, Luisa Diogo, current
Minister of Planning and Finance, to the remainder of
Chissano's term (managing both positions) (Ref C).

2. (U) Eduardo Mulembwe, President of the Parliament, opened
the session by announcing 22 agenda items that Parliament
will discuss in 2004. Hot items include: question and answer
sessions with the GRM, a report by the Social Action
Committee on resettlement of flood victims, a report on the
revision of the Constitution, revision of the Anti-Corruption
Law (many deputies feel the law should be tougher), revision
of the electoral law (more specifically, how it handles vote
tabulation), and a draft law on tourism and
telecommunications.

3. (U) Parliamentary party leaders followed Mulembwe, taking
the floor to discuss pertinent, sensitive issues such as the
BCM fraud case, trafficking in persons/organs, economic
growth and development, and revision of the 2004 electoral
legislation. Manual Tome, Head of the FRELIMO parliamentary
bench, applauded the success of FRELIMO in improving
conditions for economic growth, citing the most recent GDP
growth rate of 7% (2003). Tome heralded national expansion of
the power grid, water supply, and the health and education
systems as major FRELIMO successes. On the judicial front,
Tome praised the BCM trial, calling the process "objective"
and a booster to the credibility of the Mozambican judicial
system (REF D).

4.(SBU) Countering FRELIMO's self-praise, Ossufo Quitine,
RENAMO parliamentary bench leader, remarked that the
five-year mandate of the FRELIMO government was marked by
"disastrous economic and financial decisions," resulting in
the bankruptcy of many businesses and increased unemployment.
RENAMO harshly criticized the handling of the BCM trial,
calling its proceedings a "farce." Finally, RENAMO focused
heavily on revision of the electoral law to include an extra
layer of vote tabulation at the district level. RENAMO
believes that a more thorough vote tabulation process will
allow for greater transparency in the 2004 national elections
(to be held sometime between October-December). (COMMENT:
While this if feasible and potentially valuable for the sake
of transparency, it will make the tabulation process more
cumbersome and bureaucratic. RENAMO's request to add layers
to the process continues the opposition party's theme of
being cheated out of votes during the electoral process by
FRELIMO during the transport of votes from the district to
the provincial capitals. END COMMENT).

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The current session is likely to be a
noteworthy if not particularly productive one on the
legislative front. President Chissano will give his last
annual address to the Parliament, as will Attorney-General
Joaquim Madeira. Madeira's speech is likely to feature a
thorough cross-examination by RENAMO deputies on whether the
Attorney General's Office will make the decision to prosecute
Nympine Chissano, the President's son, implicated during last
year's trial of those found guilty in the 2000 murder of the
famous journalist Carlos Cardoso. President Chissano's last
parliamentary session has several important issues to address
in the 10 months ahead, with corruption and electoral law
reform of significant interest. Because this is an election
year, drastic policy changes or legal revisions are not
expected. The biggest GRM issue to watch for will be how the
2004 elections are conducted and how the outcome of those
elections will change the political, economic, and social
landscape of Mozambique. END COMMENT.
LA LIME

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