At least three candidates have publicly announced their intention to run for Mozambique's main opposition Renamo party leadership in an election that will take place during the party's congress that began on Monday at the party's jungle base on the the foot of the Gorongosa Mountains in Mozambique's central Sofala province, APA can report.
The two-day congress will elect the successor of Afonso Dhlakama, who headed the former rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) following his death on May 3 last year in the central town of Gorongosa, a party stronghold
Renamo's spokesman told a media briefing on Tuesday in Gorongosa that current interim coordinator of the Renamo Political Commission; Ossufo Momade, secretary general of the party, Manuel Bissopo, and a retired Brigadier Elias Dhlakama who is also brother of the late leader will run for the party's leadership post.
"The submission of candidacies to this post will be made today (Tuesday) the first day of the congress's work, but there is room to accept more names in addition to those who have expressed their interest", Manteigas said.
He added that delegations to the congress began arriving late on Monday at village of headquarters of Gorongosa, where the gathering will take place.
"The congress will be held in Gorongosa Mountain Range if weather conditions allow. Otherwise, the host village of Gorongosa will be the venue for the event, which will have 700 delegates and 300 guests, both local and foreign, "Manteiga added.
He reiterated that it is not yet known exactly who will be the candidates for the position of Chairman of Renamo, but the National Council held in November last year deliberated on the profile of those
who may be candidates for leadership of this party.
These requirements include being a Mozambican nation, minimum of 15 years of militancy in the party; minimum age of 35; suitability and recognized merit; be a regular member of the party; have exercised at least five years of active politics, have exercised one of the following functions: a combatant of the struggle for democracy, a secretary general, a member of the National Council, a National Political Commission, a Jurisdictional Council, a chairperson of the Provincial Council, among other positions.
Ossufo Momade took over the role of interim coordinator of the Renamo Political Commission shortly after Afonso Dhlakama's death on May 3, 2018. Prior to that, he was the head of the Renamo Defense and Security Department and a member of parlaiment.
He was secretary general of the party between 2005 and 2012. Currently, under the rank of lieutenant general, Ossufo Momade was born on the Island of Mozambique in Nampula in 1961. He joined the ranks of Renamo in 1978 after deserting the Popular Liberation Forces of Mozambique, where it had been incorporated in 1974.
Elias Dhlakama, a retired brigadier since October 2018, was born in the Chibabava district in 1965 and holds a master's degree in Political Science, Governance and International Relations from the Catholic University of Lisbon. He was incorporated into Renamo in 1980 and during the 16-year war he operated in several provinces of the country and with the signing of the General Peace Agreement in 1994 he was incorporated into the Defense Forces of Mozambique (FADM), where he remained until requesting the his move to the reserve last year.
Manuel Bissopo, Renamo member for more than two decades, graduated in Economics, is now general secretary of the party and member of parliament and was a guerrilla and after the General Peace Accord took over political activities in the party.
Members of Dhlakama’s party have clashed with government forces since he lost a disputed election four years ago. Before his death after a short illness last year, Dhlakama was set to run again against Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on October 15 this year when the country will hold general elections.
Dhlakama’s forces and the ruling Frelimo party fought a long bush war in which around one million people are believed to have died.
It was ended in 1992 under a peace accord that gave combatants a blanket amnesty and allowed Renamo to regroup as an opposition party, paving the way for landmark elections two years later.
Dhlakama lost every major election he contested against Frelimo, though he topped the vote count in several central and two northern provinces in 2014.
Since the poll, Renamo has demanded it rule in the six provinces where it won the most votes, while the government has called for the opposition to disarm before opening discussions.