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Nampula mayor assassinated on Mozambique’s ‘day of peace’

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The Mayor of Nampula, Mahamudo Amurane, was shot dead on Wednesday evening by an unknown gunman outside his house. It is still unknown who was behind the killing of the MDM politician.

On Thursday, the police fired warning shots at crowds gathering to call for justice in central Nampula.

The murder took place on Mozambique’s Peace and Reconciliation day. Amurane – who has recently split from the MDM, the party under whose banner he won election in 2013 – was killed by three shots in front of the pharmacy that he ran on the ground floor of his house.

“At this moment the investigation is underway to find the man or men behind this heinous crime,” according to an official statement from the mayor’s office. The assassination, the statement said, “shames Mozambicans”.

Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique, said: “While we vehemently lament and condemn this brutal and irrational act, we exhort our forces of law and order to do everything to clarify, as quickly as possible, the situation in which the crime happened, and that the transgressors be identified, neutralised, brought to justice, and punished exemplarily.”

The police told Zitamar that the offenders have not yet been identified, while the motive is also undetermined. However, the police told news agency Lusa that they have clear eyewitness descriptions of the killers to work from.

Zitamar’s reporter in Nampula saw crowds gathering in the streets on Thursday morning, following the assassination. Later in the morning, photos and videos circulated on social media showing crowds burning tires, and police firing warning shots into the air.

Murder should not be forgotten, as others have been – Daviz Simango

Amurane had increasingly distanced himself from the MDM over recent months, and he announced in August that he would leave the party to run as an independent, or at the head of a new party, at the next municipal elections in 2018.

Sources in Nampula also tell Zitamar that not everyone was satisfied with the way Amurane was “cleaning up” the city of Nampula including the removal of some barracas (local bars) from the streets.

Daviz Simango, founder and president of the MDM and Mayor of Beira, told a press conference on Thursday that accusations that the party was involved in Amurane’s murder are an effort to weaken the party.

“We have seen people on social networks spreading disinformation,” he said. “Let’s let justice do its work. People who want to make the MDM disappear, want to discredit it, are doing this to weaken the MDM.”

He called on the authorities to not allow the murder simply to be forgotten – as in the case of many recent and past murders, he said.

There may now be a by-election for a new mayor of Nampula, as Amurane’s murder came just days before the 12-month cut-off point before the next round of elections. If a mayor dies less than a year before regular elections, no by-election is held. In the interim, the post of mayor is held by the leader of the municipal assembly.

‘We can’t imagine a society free of conflicts’

The assassination took place on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement between between the Mozambican government and Renamo in Rome in 1992.

At celebrations in Nampula, Amurane held what would be his last speech, underlining the importance of all Mozambicans, and not only the politicians, contributing to the peace of the country.

“The responsibility for peace is for the whole Mozambican society not just the Government or the politicians who have decreed an indefinite truce to the armed conflict,” he said.

He also used the speech to call for decisive action towards the devolution and decentralisation of power in Mozambique to the regions.

“We call on the Government for a serious debate in the areas of our Constitution,” he said, adding that “our society is clamouring for models of devolution and greater decentralization in state administration.”

“We can’t imagine a society free of conflicts of interest, be they political, economic, or social,” he said, “but our experience of managing conflicts throughout our history, as a nation free of the Portuguese colonial yoke, should … always call us to speak about the differences we have in the processes of consolidating the Mozambican nation.”

© 2017, Zitamar Ltd. Reproduction and dissemination prohibited without written permission.

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