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Mozambique’s Ruling Frelimo to Choose Guebuza Successor

Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo meets in 10 days to choose a presidential candidate to succeed Armando Guebuza and run in the nation’s October general election.

The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique’s 160-member Central Committee will start a two-day meeting on Dec. 22 after shortlisting three candidates, the party’s political commission said in an e-mailed statement late on Dec. 11. All three candidates -- Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, Defense Minister Filipe Nyussi and Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina -- are from the country’s central and northern provinces.

Frelimo is choosing a new leader after the opposition Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, last month accused the government of planning to kill its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, following an Oct. 21 attack on its main base in central Sofala province. Guebuza, who is barred by Mozambique’s constitution from standing for a third term, is close to both Pacheco and Vaquina, according to Nelson Changwine, a political analyst.

“Guebuza is trying to impose someone who can assure him of continuing to run the country in his way,” Changwine said in an interview in the capital, Maputo, yesterday. “In Vaquina and Pacheco, he has the blind followers.”

Calls by Bloomberg to the mobile phones of the three candidates weren’t answered.

Little Charisma

None of the candidates is strong enough to assure victory for Frelimo at next year’s poll, Gilberto Correa, former chairman of Mozambique’s bar association, said in e-mailed response to questions.

“They are only for domestic consumption, with little charisma and a questionable popularity,” Correa said. “These names were released with the intention of gauging the public’s reaction.”

Vaquina, 52, studied medicine in Portugal before serving as governor of both Sofala and Tete provinces and becoming prime minister 14 months ago. Pacheco was one of three candidates at Frelimo’s 2002 congress to succeed Joaquim Chissano at elections in 2004. He withdrew from the race two hours before the central committee appointed Guebuza.

Nyussi, who trained as an engineer and worked for Mozambique’s rail company for 16 years, is a relative outsider and unlike the other two candidates isn’t a member of Frelimo’s political committee, Changwine said.

“The next candidate will have 10 months to prepare his image for election,” Damiao Jose, spokesman for Frelimo, said in an interview in Maputo yesterday. “We don’t think that time is short because he will have full party support.”

Civil War

Frelimo fought a 17-year civil war against against Renamo, once backed by the white-minority governments of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and South Africa, until signing a peace agreement in Rome in 1992. Renamo said in October the peace agreement ended after its base was attacked.

The attack followed earlier clashes that disrupted public transportation in Sofala and the movement of coal by rail to the coast from mines owned by Rio Tinto Plc and Vale SA.

Mozambique is the site of the world’s biggest natural gas discovery in the last decade.

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