Mozambique is a republic and a multiparty democracy. It has an executive president as head of state and government, who is directly elected for a five-year term and serves a maximum of two terms. He or she appoints the prime minister and Council of Ministers.

The national legislature is the 250-member unicameral parliament (Assembléia da República), members of which are elected every five years by direct universal suffrage.

There are 11 provinces headed by a president-appointed governor and indirectly elected local assemblies. Each province is subdivided into districts.

The 1990 constitution, which replaced the independence constitution, separated the powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It enshrined the principles of political pluralism and election by a secret ballot of a government based on majority rule. It avowed the right to live in a ‘balanced environment’ and established the framework for a liberal market economy and the private ownership of land. It also abolished the death penalty.

A new constitution was adopted in 2004 and came into force in 2005. A Constitutional Council was established in 2005 to ensure strict observance of the new constitution including the electoral acts and also established the Council of State to advise the president on specific matters. The ombudsman ensures protection of the rights of the citizen. The new constitution emphasises that its interpretation should always be consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Supreme Court is the final appellate court, and it has original jurisdiction in the most serious criminal cases. As well as other judicial courts, there are the Administrative Court, the courts-martial, and customs, maritime and labour courts. Some Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president and others are elected by parliament.