News / Africa

Police Killings, Ambushes Put Mozambique Peace on Edge

FILE - Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement "Renamo" receiving military training, Nov. 8, 2012FILE - Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement "Renamo" receiving military training, Nov. 8, 2012
x
FILE - Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement "Renamo" receiving military training, Nov. 8, 2012
FILE - Fighters of the former Mozambican rebel movement "Renamo" receiving military training, Nov. 8, 2012
Reuters
The deadliest attacks in Mozambique in more than a decade by suspected opposition gunmen have rekindled memories of a 1975-1992 civil war and put pressure on the ruling party to rethink the marginalization of its main political foe.
 
Four policemen and three civilians were killed in ambushes of a truck and two buses at the weekend - a tactic widely used by guerrillas in the 1980s - raising fears that the mineral-rich southern African nation's two-decade peace may be under threat.
 
Renamo, the guerrilla movement founded around independence in 1975 with the backing of white-ruled Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa to take on the Marxist Frelimo party which has ruled the country ever since, has denied it attacked civilians.
 
But the group - which has seats in parliament but is effectively excluded from power in what is a de facto one-party state - is widely suspected. Military chief Paulino Macaringue was quoted as saying the army was awaiting orders from President Armando Guebuza to strike back.
 
However, several newspaper editorials said that instead of a military clamp-down, Guebuza should offer an olive branch to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who has been pushed into the political wilderness by Frelimo's stranglehold on politics and the economy since the war ended with a shaky truce.
 
“The president of the republic has a vast array of options, that he doesn't use, to come to an agreement with the leader of Renamo and make Renamo feel included in the democratic process,” the Magazine Independente said.
 
Analysts say Renamo is in no shape to launch widespread attacks, with at most 1,000 veteran guerrillas at its disposal and popular support that amounted to only 16 percent of the vote in 2009 elections.
 
“It is seriously doubtful that these people could actually wage a war,” said Joseph Hanlon, a Mozambique analyst at Britain's Open University.
 
But many Mozambicans are worried that even the slightest violence could upset the relative political stability that has underpinned an unprecedented economic boom based on massive foreign investment in coal mining and natural gas exploration.
 
The off-shore Rovuma field is believed to hold enough gas to supply Germany, Britain, France and Italy for 15 years, and mining giants Vale and Rio Tinto have invested nearly $10 billion in mines in Tete province, home to some of the world's largest untapped coal deposits.
 
Election Threat
 
The source of the fiercest Frelimo-Renamo tension in over a decade stems from preparations for next year's presidential election and Renamo's thwarted attempts to reduce Frelimo's control of the National Election Commission.
 
Foreign observers criticized the former Portuguese colony's last two elections as not fair and lacking transparency.
 
Dhlakama retreated to the Renamo stronghold, the remote Gorongosa Mountains, in October, threatening to open guerrilla training camps.
 
Renamo leaders vowed to sabotage the polls after their electoral reform drive in parliament failed. Although the presidential election is not until October 2014, voter registration starts next month and municipal polls are due in November.
 
The security forces responded to those threats last week when police raided Renamo headquarters in the central town of Muxungue, arresting 15 people and tear-gassing bystanders.
 
The next day, Renamo gunmen killed four policemen and one of their own members died in an assault on the Muxungue police station. Two days later gunmen shot up a gasoline truck and two buses in the same district, killing three people.
 
Renamo security chief Osufo Madate said the party had finally got fed up with being brushed aside by Frelimo, which controls 191 of the 250 seats in parliament and dominates nearly every aspect of public life in the nation of 23 million.
 
“If we continue with our peaceful behavior, it will mean the end of us. From now on, whenever we are attacked, we will retaliate adequately,” he said.
 
Speaking to reporters this week in the Gorongosa Mountains, Dhlakama said he had talked to President Guebuza by telephone but turned down a face-to-face meeting because it “would not result in anything”.
 
Since the ambushes, police have deployed armed escorts for vehicle convoys on the highway near Muxungue - an alarming echo of the civil war on the main road running down the spine of the country.
 
South African bus company Intercape, one of whose vehicles was attacked, said it had suspended its service along the route.
 
Worryingly for the mining companies in the northern province of Tete, the Sena line - the only rail link from the coal fields to the Indian Ocean - runs through former Renamo strongholds and was frequently attacked and blown up during the war.
 
“This is not how the country will attract new investment,” Mozambican analyst Fernando Lima said. “It is not possible for the country to maintain this spiral of growth and foreign investment and have this type of news of armed conflict and photographs of people bleeding.”

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid