MAPUTO– Mozambique’s Constitutional Council, the country’s supreme body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, has rejected the appeal from the main opposition party, Renamo, against the disqualification of its candidate for mayor of Maputo, Venancio Mondlane, in municipal elections scheduled for Oct 10.

The Council’s decision, taken on Monday and published on its website on Tuesday, was unanimous, which which means that the judge appointed by the Renamo parliamentary group, Manuel Franque, to sit on the panel to hear the appeal, agreed with the other five judges that Mondlane was ineligible.

Mondlane was once the rapporteur of the parliamentary group of the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), but in July he defected to Renamo, and was immediately chosen to head the Renamo list of candidates for the Maputo Municipal Assembly, meaning that if Renamo were to win the municipal elections in Maputo, he would become mayor.

Angered at Mondlane’s desertion, the MDM called on the National Elections Commission (CNE) to disqualify him. The CNE voted in favour of the MDM’s petition by nine votes to seven. The key argument used to disqualify Mondlane was that a 1997 law on municipalities states that anyone who resigns from a municipal office may not stand in the next round of municipal elections.

Mondlane was elected a member of the Maputo municipal assembly in the local elections of 2013. The following year he was elected as an MDM member of the national parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and resigned his municipal assembly seat.

The MDM argued, and members of the CNE from the ruling Frelimo Party agreed, that this resignation meant that Mondlane cannot stand for election in the October municipal elections.

In its appeal against the CNE Renamo argued that the clauses in the 1997 law used by the CNE are unconstitutional, because they limit the fundamental right of standing for election. Renamo added that the October municipal elections take place in a totally new legal framework, following amendments to the constitution and the electoral legislation earlier this year.