MAPUTO, Official campaigning for the mayoral by-election in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula has kicked off with the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, calling on all candidates, political parties and their supporters to behave with tolerance.

Carimo on Monday stressed that candidates and parties should avoid disorder, violence and incitement to hatred. Instead, they should adopt a posture and an attitude which seek to promote an environment of peace, harmony, joy and solidarity, he said.

He warned that the electoral law forbids candidates from using State assets (such as vehicles) in their campaigns. They are also barred from campaigning at places of worship and from turning children and youth into political instruments.

There are five candidates. The party which won the 2013 municipal elections in Nampula, the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), is fielding 48-year-old businessman Carlos Saide, a city councillor for town planning under former Mayor Mahamudo Amurane, whose assassination on Oct 4, last year, precipitated the by-election.

Despite the highly public dispute between Amurane and the MDM leadership prior to his murder, Saide has declared: We have the duty to ensure continuity with the election manifesto that was being implemented by our colleague, Mahamudo Amurane.

The candidate for the ruling Frelimo Party, Amisse Cololo, a lecturer at the Catholic University of Mozambique, had also served in the Nampula provincial government as Director of Labour, and had headed the secretariat of the Nampula Provincial Assembly. Frelimo is attempting to win back control of the city which they had controlled until defeat by the MDM in 2013.

The county’s main opposition party, the rebel movement Renamo, boycotted the 2013 municipal election. For the by-election, it is putting up Paulo Vahanhe, a teacher and a deputy in the national parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. If he wins, he will have to resign his parliamentary seat.

The tiny Humanitarian Party of Mozambique (PAHUMO) is fielding Filomena Mutoropa, the party’s sole member of the Nampula Municipal Assembly. This will be her second attempt at becoming Mayor of Nampula. In 2013, she won 4.15 per cent of the vote.

The fifth candidate, Mario Albino, is a longstanding feature of the Nampula political landscape. He was the MDM’s first Nampula provincial delegate in 2009, but deserted the MDM and ran for mayor in 2013 as the candidate of the Civic Association for the Sustainable Exploitation of Natural Resources (ASSEMONA). He came last with just 548 votes (0.98 per cent).