The mayor of the Greek capital, Giorgos Kaminis, has bestowed the City of Athens Democracy Award on the former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, for his fundamental role in ending the civil war in his country and establishing democracy.
Awarded for the third year in a row as part of the New York Times-organized Athens Democracy Forum, the distinction honors personalities who have upheld the principles of democracy, civil liberties and human rights.
A founding member of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), Chissano played a fundamental role in the 1974 Mozambique independence negotiations between Frelimo and the Portuguese government, taking office as prime minister of the transitional government and being elected president following the death of Samora Machel in 1986.
“President Chissano led positive socioeconomic reforms, culminating in the adoption of the 1990 constitution that established the multiparty system and an open market in Mozambique. He also led successful negotiations with former rebels, ending 16 years of destabilizing war in 1992,” the Athens Democracy Forum organizers said of his nomination.
Presenting the award in a ceremony on Sunday at the Acropolis Museum with the ancient citadel in the background, Kaminis hailed the former president's accomplishments and spoke of the importance of an independent justice system and freedom of speech as bedrocks of democracy.
“In many parts of the world we are seeing the emergence, through democratic elections, of government that are using their majority in parliament to weaken these institutions,” Kaminis, a former ombudsman, warned.