Cablegate: Mozambique - National Assembly Amends the 1990

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2004 12:08 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
Sensitive but Unclassified - Not for Internet Distribution
1. (U) On November 16, by a rare unanimous vote, RENAMO
deputies joined their FRELIMO counterparts in approving a
long list of amendments to the 1990 constitution. The
majority of the changes were clarifications of existing
principles and statutes. The significant amendments are as
-- Term of Office: A sitting president will be able to serve
a second consecutive term, but will not (unlike under the
1990 Constitution) be able to serve a third consecutive term.
However, an individual will be able to serve a third term if
the third term is separated in time from the second term by
at least one term in office by someone else. (Note: The
amendment does not address the issue of serving four or more
terms. End note.)
-- Constitutional Council: The Constitutional Council, set
up in 2003 to verify whether laws and decrees are in keeping
with the Constitution and to validate election results, will
have new powers. Its opinions will no longer be merely
recommendations but decisions of law without appeal. In
addition, its mandate will include investigating the legality
of new political parties.
-- Council of State: In time of war or a national emergency,
the president will be able to solicit advice from what will
be a new advisory body known as the Council of State, made up
of the prime minister, any former presidents of the Republic
or the Assembly, the runner-up in the most recent
presidential election, and 11 "personalities of recognized
merit" - four chosen by the president and seven by the
Assembly. The president can choose to ignore the advice
given, however.
-- Ombudsman: The Ombudsman (a new governmental position)
will have the responsibility of investigating abuses by state
officials. This individual will be elected by a 2/3 majority
of members of the National Assembly.
-- Provincial Assemblies: Provincial assemblies are to come
into existence by 2008. FRELIMO was against having them,
arguing that the country could not afford the cost of these
bodies, but RENAMO insisted on their creation. The president
currently appoints the governors of the provinces.
Provincial assemblies therefore would presumably give greater
power and a degree of autonomy to provincial governments.
Details on the assemblies, including how they will be
financed, have been left to future legislation.
-- Dual Nationality: Previously one had to renounce one's
former nationality to acquire Mozambican citizenship through
residence. Now this will no longer necessary -- one will be
able to be a dual national under Mozambican law.
2. (SBU) Comment: The amendments only come into force upon
the validation of the results of the upcoming December 1-2
general elections. Conveniently for FRELIMO, this means that
the Constitutional Council's view of the election will not
yet have any legal effect on the outcome. The inclusion of
the runner-up in the presidential election in the Council of
State is a clear sop to Dhlakama, in case RENAMO loses.
There was little suspense during the Assembly session; both
parties had worked out a consensus beforehand in committee
meetings. Since modifying the Constitution requires a 2/3's
majority in the Assembly, and FRELIMO holds 133 seats against
RENAMO's 117, securing support on both sides of the aisle
meant that the changes were essentially quite modest. The
most ambitious and therefore contentious modification appears
to have been the creation of provincial parliaments. No
wonder, then, that details on them remain to be worked out
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