Mozambique PM appeals to opposition MPs to take up parliamentary seats

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Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario has urged the members of the country’s main opposition Renamo party, who were elected in October to parliament, to take their seats so that their ideas can be heard by the people, APA learns here on Wednesday.

According to state news agency, Rosario was speaking at the parliament shortly after a meeting with the parliamentary speaker, Veronica Macamo on Wednesday.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has ordered the 89 elected Renamo members not to take their seats, on the grounds that the general elections of 15 October were fraudulent. When some of them tried to persuade him to change his mind at a meeting in Nampula on Sunday, he reportedly made some veiled threats against them.

"Sitting down with Frelimo would be a betrayal", he reportedly said, adding that he would not be responsible for anything that might happen to Renamo members who defied him and took their seats.

Rosario told reporters that by taking their seats, the Renamo deputies would be able to express their ideas and create an environment favourable to debating the country’s development.

"We encourage them to take their seats and present their differences and their opinions", Rosario said.

Dhlakama, who led a low-level insurgency for a year before emerging from his bush hideout to participate in the vote, has challenged every election result since the 16-year civil war ended in 1992.

But the October poll showed his popularity is improving again, he took 37 percent of the vote, more than double his 2009 score.

Outgoing President Armando Guebuza last month signed a law that would grant the former rebel commander Dhlakama a special status.

But Dhlakama rejected the law which would have created a British-style leader of the opposition, complete with his own official residence, staff and office, as well as the right to set his own salary.

Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since its independence in 1975, also maintained its majority in the 250-seat parliament, but ended up with only 144, which is 50 seats fewer than it won in the 2009 elections.

According to the Assembly’s standing orders, any deputy who does not take his seat within 30 days of the opening of parliament will lose it. That deadline expires on 12 February.

Rosario said that in his meeting with Macamo, they also discussed mechanisms for better coordination between the government and the National Assembly.

"We listened to her advice on how we can increasingly coordinate our activity with that of the institution which she heads", he said.

SOURCE: Star Africa, February 4th, 2015,