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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs