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Mozambique Opposition Wants Dialogue to Ease Tensions

  • Peter Clottey

FILE- Frelimo presidential candidate Filipe Nyusi casts his ballot in the general election at a secondary school in Maputo, Oct. 15, 2014.

FILE- Frelimo presidential candidate Filipe Nyusi casts his ballot in the general election at a secondary school in Maputo, Oct. 15, 2014.

Mozambique has sworn-in a new president, but the losing side boycotted the inauguration, saying last year’s presidential election was "fraudulent."

Filipe Nyusi won a contentious election last October and was sworn-in Thursday in the capital city, Maputo, at a ceremony attended by thousands of people.

Members of the opposition Renamo party boycotted the ceremony, and its members of parliament refused to take their seats this week to protest against last year’s vote.

The Renamo presidential candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, fought a 16-year civil war against Nyusi's Frelimo movement before signing a peace deal in 1992.

Frelimo is a former Marxist liberation movement that has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975.

Opposition groups say its tight grip on power has left many ordinary Mozambicans excluded from economic and social progress.

Renamo says it is willing to hold peace negotiations with the newly installed president. The talks would help ease political tensions in the country after the party rejected the outcome of the election.

Eduardo Namburete, the opposition party’s head of external relations, said Renamo would accept Nyusi’s legitimacy only if he acknowledges that the election was marred by voter irregularities.

“To us, what happened today was meaningless. We don’t see it as something that truly represents what Mozambicans were expecting as the outcome of the elections on October 15,” said Namburete.

“Our recognition will depend on the understanding that the process was not conducted in a fair manner,” said Namburete. “If he shows that openness, acknowledge that things didn’t go well, then we may also recognize him as the president, and engage in discussions to reach a common ground to reach a peaceful settlement.”

Citing voter fraud during the poll, Dhlakama rejected the outcome of the election and threatened to split the country into two.

Some Mozambicans expressed concern that Renamo supporters could take up arms and threaten the southern African country’s stability.

Namburete says the time has come to resolve tensions.

“Now that he has formerly been invested with the power our expectation is that he opens room for discussion with Renamo leadership so as to find a peaceful settlement to this political dispute…,” said Namburete. “It is our hope that in the next few days Mr. Nyusi may [make] room for that discussion to start because we see [it] to be the only way for a peaceful settlement.”

Renamo challenged the October elections in court after accusing the ruling party of rigging the vote. But, the Constitutional Court ruled that Nyusi is the winner of the presidential polls.

Namburete disagreed with the ruling. He said the country is politically divided in two after opposition lawmakers refused to participate in parliamentary proceedings.

“The composition of the Constitutional Court is very biased because almost 90 percent of the judges are senior members of the ruling party Frelimo, and we couldn’t expect much that they would rule in a different way,” said Namburete. “The only way now is to start negotiations between Renamo and the government [with both parties meeting] halfway.”