MAPUTO, The Nampula City Court in northern Mozambique has sentenced the interim mayor of Nampula, Manuel Tocova, to three months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for the crime of disobedience.

The Nampula branch of the Public Prosecutor’s Office had charged Tocova with disobedience when he refused to supply documents regarding the dismissals and appointment of Nampula city councillors, and for rejecting a warning that he had no power to sack councillors, reports the independent television station, STV.

A claim by Voice of America, the United States government-funded broadcaster, that Tocova was also charged with the murder of Nampula Mayor Mahamudo Amurane on Oct 4 is entirely untrue.

Tocova is chairperson of the Nampula Municipal Assembly, and, under the country’s laws, he automatically became interim mayor following the death of Amurane.

The legislation limits the power of interim mayors. In the period between the death of a mayor and the holding of a new election, the interim mayor is only empowered to undertake routine acts of day-to-day management, and not to shake up the composition of the municipal council.

However, Tocova sacked most of the councillors who had worked with Amurane. When the Public Prosecutor warned him that this was illegal, he did not retreat and a week ago he swore into office 10 new councillors and six head of administrative posts in the city government. Some of those he appointed had served under Amurane, but were accused of acts of corruption and dismissed.

Last week, Tocova accused the Public Prosecutor’s Office of trying to intimidate him, and declared that he would not rescind the appointments. He claimed that those who had worked with Amurane were trying to sabotage him. After Monday’s trial, if Tocova still fails to reverse his decisions and reinstate the councillors he sacked, he is likely to be thrown into prison.