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Mozambique: Constitutionality of Election Laws Challenged

(Apr. 28, 2009) The Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), a former rebel movement turned political party, recently went before Mozambique's Constitutional Council, a body with a mandate to give final rulings in matters of constitutional law, and asked that certain provisions of a 2007 election law and a law on harmonization of general and provincial elections be declared unconstitutional. RENAMO's claim is that parliaments cannot pass any law on matters of presidential elections that does not mirror the requirements under the Constitution.

One of the contested provisions introduces a residency requirement for presidential candidacy. It states that anyone who wishes to make a run for president must habitually live in Mozambique for at least 12 months. The second contested provision, which is on harmonization of general and provincial elections, requires any group of citizens that wishes to nominate a presidential candidate to register, just as municipal candidates do. RENAMO'S position is that any law that introduces additional requirements to those stipulated in the Constitution, regardless of how logical or non-prohibitive it is, should be struck down as unconstitutional. (RENAMO Tries to Delay General Elections, ALLAFRICA.COM, Apr. 25, 2009, available at

The Constitutional requirements for becoming a candidate for president are that the interested party must: be a Mozambique national by origin and must not possess the nationality of any other country; be at least 35 years of age; and be nominated by at least 10,000 people. (Art. 147, Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique, available at
(last visited Apr. 23, 2009).)