With Portuguese troops and humanitarian workers now returned from the cyclone-relief effort mounted in Mozambique, the tables have turned on a mystery that simply won’t go away.
Almost three years ago, a group of uniformed men in an unmarked vehicle – typical of those used by Mozambican security forces – kidnapped 49-year-old Américo Sebastião from a fuel station outside Beira, the capital devastated by tropical cyclone Idai last month.
It was a little after 6am. Since then, nothing.
According to reports, Mozambican authorities have rebuffed all attempts by diplomatic sources to assist in the discovery of what happened, saying themselves that they had discovered no information.
But Idai has put the former Portuguese colony in ‘check’ – and who better to pile on the pressure than euro MP Ana Gomes, already squarely in the media spotlight this week (click here).
Gomes is supporting the argument of the missing man’s family and friends: if Mozambique was willing to accept Portugal’s help over Idai (and this country has given massive amounts of help in form of food, medical supplies and donations) why will it not accept Portugal’s help in trying to find out what happened to Américo Sebastião?
The euro MPs has now publicly appealed to President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to break the deadlock.
“There are limits for diplomatic action, and it’s on a political level that these questions have to be answered”, Gomes told journalists on Tuesday, saying she is “absolutely convinced” that if Marcelo takes up the challenge, he won’t simply be helping the family of Américo Sebastião, “he will be helping all the Mozambicans who demand respect for the rule of law, accountability, fairness justice and fight against corruption”.
Lusa reports that sources in Mozambique have recently inferred that they are now “open to cooperate within the context of laws and agreements that we have with Portugal”.