MAPUTO– The Municipal Assembly in the central Mozambican city of Quelimane, in an extraordinary session Wednesday, voted unanimously to sack the city’s mayor, Manuel de Araujo, but he says he has no intention of vacating the office.

The chairperson of the Assembly, Domingos Albuquerque, said it took the decision because Araujo has defected from the party on whose ticket he was elected mayor, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), the country’s second biggest opposition party, and has joined the main opposition party, Renamo, instead.

Araujo is now the Renamo mayoral candidate for Quelimane in the municipal elections scheduled for Oct 10. Albuquerque claimed it was illegal for someone to cling onto an office to which he had been elected as a member of one party, while preparing to stand for a further term in the same post on the ticket of another party.

This is not the first time Araujo has switched parties. Returning to Mozambique after studying in Britain in the late 1990s, he became one of a group of intellectuals who joined Renamo, and who were rewarded with seats in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in the 2004 general election.

Araujo became unhappy with the authoritarian way in which the then leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, ran the party, and so he became one of the Renamo deputies who defected to the newly formed MDM, set up in 2009 by the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango.

He ran successfully for the MDM in a mayoral by-election in Quelimane in 2011, and was then re-elected mayor, again on the MDM ticket, in the 2013 municipal elections.

This year, the MDM membership in Quelimane again picked Araujo for its mayoral candidate in the October elections but a few weeks later he angered them with his defection to Renamo.

Renamo announced that Araujo is heading its list of candidates for the Quelimane assembly and under the current law the head of whichever party or group wins a majority of votes in the election automatically becomes mayor.

At Wednesday’s meeting, 34 of the 39 Assembly members were present � 22 from the MDM, and 12 from the ruling Frelimo Party. There are no Renamo members in the Assembly since Renamo boycotted the 2013 municipal elections.

Araujo managed to unite the MDM and Frelimo against him; his support came from a crowd of Renamo sympathisers who gathered outside the town hall.