Mozambique’s Renamo opposition movement
said on Monday it was abandoning its 1992
peace accord with the ruling Frelimo party that
ended the country’s civil war, raising fears of a
renewal of conflict in the budding African
energy producer.
Renamo, which entered representative politics
through the peace pact that terminated the brutal
1975-1992 war, said it took the decision because of
the capture on Monday by government forces of a
jungle base where its leader Afonso Dhlakama was
staying. Dhlakama escaped into the surrounding
mountains.
“Peace is over in the country … The responsibility lies
with the Frelimo government because they didn’t
want to listen to Renamo’s grievances,” Renamo
spokesman Fernando Mazanga told Reuters.
Mazanga said the Renamo party, which has 51
parliamentarians in the current Frelimo-dominated
national assembly, would be meeting to decide its
strategy. He did not immediately spell out whether
the opposition movement would be taking up arms
again on a national level.
There was no immediate reaction from the
government of President Armando Guebuza.
It earlier confirmed that government troops had
taken over the Renamo base in the Gorongosa region
of Sofala province, some 600 km (375 miles) north of
the capital Maputo. This followed clashes in the area
between the army and Renamo.
Renamo’s unilateral annulment of the peace accord
was certain to alarm foreign donor governments and
investors, who have been backing economic
development in one of Africa’s fastest-growing
economies. Big coal and offshore gas discoveries
have drawn multi-billion dollar investments to
Mozambique.
The fighting in the thickly forested Gorongosa region
between the old civil war foes occurred just a month
before municipal elections that Renamo had
promised to boycott and disrupt because it accuses
the ruling Frelimo party of monopolising political
power.
Guebuza’s government in turn accuses Renamo of
trying to destabilise Mozambique and drag it back to
war. It has sent extra troops into Sofala to protect rail
and road traffic against ambushes.
LEADER IN HIDING
Mozambique’s military moved against Dhlakama’s
base after suspected Renamo guerrillas killed seven
Mozambican soldiers in an ambush last week.
Renamo raids in April and June in Sofala had already
raised fears for stability in Mozambique. They killed
at least 11 soldiers and police and six civilians and
forced a temporary suspension of coal exports sent
by rail to the coast. Road traffic and the tourist trade
were also affected.
Renamo spokesman Mazanga said government
soldiers bombarded Renamo’s Sathunjira base with
heavy weapons before occupying it on Monday.
He said Dhlakama, who had returned to the former
Renamo civil war stronghold a year ago with a force
of armed bodyguards because he feared for his
safety, managed to escape to an undisclosed location
in the surrounding Gorongosa mountains.
“He’s called me and says that he’s in good health,”
he said.
Renamo was formed as an anti-communist rebel
group in the 1970s by the secret service of a then
white-ruled neighbour, Rhodesia, now called
Zimbabwe, and has been the main opposition to
Frelimo, a former Marxist movement, since the end of
the war.
Renamo was later adopted by the apartheid-era
South African military but abandoned the war in the
1992 pact to become the leading opposition party in
Mozambique, which gained independence from
Portugal in 1975.
Renamo has lost every election to Frelimo since the
peace deal, and has challenged these vote outcomes
as fraudulent. It accuses Guebuza and his ruling
party of hogging political and economic power
through a one-sided electoral system and by
harassing its opponents.
Frelimo was expected to dominate November’s
municipal elections and a nationwide vote in just
over a year. There are concerns the renewed fighting
could derail the resources investment bonanza in a
country where most of the population still remains
desperately poor

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