News / Africa

Analysts See Little Threat of New Civil War in Mozambique

Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement Renamo receiving military training in the Gorongosa's mountains, Nov. 8, 2012.
Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement Renamo receiving military training in the Gorongosa's mountains, Nov. 8, 2012.
Anita Powell
— Mozambique is on edge again about a possible return to civil war after 21 years of peace.  The former rebel group Renamo says it will no longer honor a 1992 peace deal following small skirmishes between its fighters and government forces.  Renamo has long complained that the civil war's victors - the ruling Frelimo party - have rigged elections to hold onto power. 

The Mozambican former rebel group Renamo said this week it was pulling out of a 1992 peace deal.  The deal ended a 15-year civil war that battered the southern African nation and killed an estimated 1 million people.

On Tuesday, gunmen thought to be with Renamo attacked a police station in central Mozambique, just a day after the group’s leader declared the end of the cease-fire.

Renamo has long expressed frustration at being an opposition party.  The former anti-communist rebel group has claimed that the ruling party, Frelimo, has rigged elections and has marginalized the opposition.

Britain-based academic Joseph Hanlon has been writing about Mozambique and Southern Africa for three decades.  Hanlon saud he’s not too concerned about a return to war, primarily because so many things have changed in 21 years.

“It’s not a return to war because neither side could wage a war.  If you go back to the 1990s, Renamo was supported extensively by apartheid South Africa and informally by the United States; they had substantial military capacity. ... Now, Renamo is composed of aging guerrillas who are now in their 50s and 60s and Mozambique opted after the civil war to have a very small military, so it does not have strong military capacity either.  So neither side can go back to war," he said.

Researcher Elisabete Azevedo-Harman, from the London-based policy institute Chatham House, said the roots of this latest conflict went back decades and involved the usual suspects: money and power.

Renamo, she said, has been sidelined in politics, partially because of the way the political system was set up.  But, she said, the group also never successfully transitioned from guerrilla fighters to political operators, and have lost popular support because of it.

Mozambique's increasing wealth from natural gas, she said, has also been a sore point.

“And Renamo feels excluded not just from the political power but also the economic power. And they’ve been accusing some ruling party members [of having] political control, but also economic control.  And of course if the country’s now rich, they feel they’ve been excluded also from this access to the resources of the country,” said Azevedo-Herman.

Hanlon said he expected leaders to look to the past to settle today’s problem.  Maybe, he said, the ruling party should throw money at the problem literally.

“A face-saving buyoff is the way out of it.  It will happen, but not in the immediate future. … It would be sinecures on government boards, but it would also be cash in suitcases.  That’s how the war was settled 21 years ago.  It was cash in suitcases,” said Hanlon.

Azevedo-Harman proposed a different solution.  She said that community leaders and religious leaders should try to hammer out an agreement.  After that, she said, they needed to take a hard look at the constitution.

“The two main political parties, they should involve these people and engage these people for an immediate dialogue and debate now.  But giving them a voice and actually also capacity of deciding, not just the two main parties.  Long term, the country needs to be rethinking the constitutional design that they have, the presidential system that doesn’t have checks and balances,” said Azevedo-Harman.

Both analysts predicted that the current skirmishes may continue, which could have worrying long-term effects. But war, they said, may not yet be on the horizon.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gildo José Munguambe from: Mozambique
October 31, 2013 11:31 AM
Dear world deal with this problem before is to late because once started it'll be a big loss,civillianes will losing there lives because of there political differences so please send the troops to end up with this threat.


by: Farito from: Germany
October 30, 2013 9:11 AM
Please send immediately Troups to finish this thread right now, before parties get more and more engaged, and people start to die!!! It should be a mix between African union troups and United Nation troups. This would guaranthee that the thread will not start and would finish within months (less than a year). Mr. Obama, Mrs. Merkel, Please take the initiative and show that the world that you are the new generation leaders, who are really concerned about keeping freedom in our world.


by: Joseph
October 24, 2013 12:13 AM
Writing about situations is easy, reality of the situation on the ground is another matter especially when people on the ground ,civillians, loose their lives. Please give us your thoughts on Zimbabwe, could be quite interesting and its future.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid