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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora