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RENAMO the Political Party

Mozambique's post-war political transition continued to be largely successful and reintegration of areas controlled by the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) during the war continued, with tensions limited to only a few districts by the end of 1997. RENAMO officials continued to allege that on numerous occasions police harassed, detained, and beat members.

Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party won the civil war. And for a long time, Renamo accused Frelimo of fixing elections so that it can stay in power. The former rebel group has long expressed dissatisfaction at being an opposition party. Renamo has never been a major player in politics, partly because of the way the political system of Mozambique was established.

It would not be 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. But today, Renamo's guerrillas who are in their 50s and 60s. And Mozambique chose to have a small military after the civil war and thus lacks military power. So neither side can return to fighting.

Twenty years after the civil war ended, Renamo members believe they have never benefited from the peace agreement and multi-party democracy. The ruling Frelimo party has won every election since 1994 and Renamo cried foul. Renamo had high hopes for talks, and says it wants them to lead to what the party calls a transitional government. The former rebels also want to talk about a better distribution of the country’s resources. Renamo accused Frelimo of cashing in on vast coal and natural gas reserves set to earn the country billions of dollars in the coming decade.

The March 2001 dialogue between President Joaquim Chissano and Afonso Dhlakama, leader of RENAMO, were the third round of negotiations aimed at defusing ongoing political tensions in Mozambique. Dhlakama stormed out of the meeting with President Chissano, thus breaking off the dialogue

Their key disagreement was over the appointment of provincial governors, with Dhlakama insisting that RENAMO nominate governors for the six provinces where it had won a majority in the 1999 general elections. RENAMO was demanding a constitutional amendment that would allow the majority party in each province to appoint governors. Chissano objected to this procedure on the grounds that the constitution should be looked at as a whole, not be altered piecemeal. Dhlakama also proposed that if a constitutional amendment was not possible, President Chissano should use his existing presidential powers to appoint governors suggested by RENAMO. For his part, President Chissano declared that changing the constitution was a prerogative of the Mozambique’s parliament, since altering the way governors are appointed was not a minor change – the quasi-federal model proposed by Dhlakama clashed with the first article of the current constitution, which establishes the unity of the Mozambican state.

In 2011, Afonoso Dhlakama, the longtime leader of the RENAMO opposition, threatened to remobilize his troops, indicating a renewed threat of civil war in the country. Mozambicans have been forthcoming with hypotheses trying to rationalize these renewed threats from Dhlakama. Some were taking the claims from the former presidential candidate – who has been politically quiet for the past several years – as flashy attempts to thrust himself back into the public sphere; another hypothesis is that he is trying to burnish his credentials within RENAMO, where his leadership has historically been accused of being less than stellar. Yet by far the most interesting hypothesis is that Dhlakama’s new threats have been intended to incite “Arab Spring” style riots in Mozambique against the ruling FRELIMO party, which, if successful, would likely make Dhlakama the new de facto president of the country.

Mozambique’s government agreed in December 2012 to talks demanded by former rebel group - turned opposition party Renamo. This comes after Renamo’s leader, Afonso Dhlakama, returned to a remote former military base in October 2012, threatening to plunge his country back into war unless the government agreed to talk to him. Dhlakama moved back to an old bush camp in the remote Gorongosa Mountains and began giving civil war-era soldiers refresher courses on how to use guns. This development cast a pall over peace celebrations in October, and led to fears of a return to the brutal 16-year civil war in which over a million Mozambicans died.

Tensions between the two sides escalated in 2013. Renamo claimed Frelimo had rigged elections and has marginalized the opposition. In OCtober 2013 the group announced it was ending a 1992 peace deal with the ruling Frelimo party. Renamo said it was pulling out of the deal because government forces had captured a base where its leader was staying. The leader, Afonso Dhlakama, managed to escape.

Since the pullout, Renamo attacked a police station in the central town of Maringue. Government officials said security forces had seized Renamo's headquarters in the town. Fresh fighting erupted October 29, 2013 in Mozambique between government troops and members of Renamo, the former rebel group that withdrew from a peace deal. The fighting broke out Tuesday in Karamaja Napome, a town about 30 kilometers from the northern city of Nampula.

In November 2013 voters thronged polling stations across Mozambique for municipal elections that have been overshadowed by renewed clashes between the two armed groups that put the country through a long civil war. Renamo, a rebel group turned political party, said its members would not disrupt the poll, but the party boycotted the vote.

Mozambique’s ruling FRELIMO party reneged on a gentleman’s agreement between President Filipe Nyusi and main opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama to help resolve the dispute surrounding the 2014 election, according to Eduardo Namburete, head of external relations for the opposition RENAMO. The opposition refused to accept Nyusi election and rejected the vote as rigged and fraught with irregularities, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court confirming him as president.

In November 2015, according to Mozambican security spokespersons and the chief of police, the security forces conducted a concerted campaign to disarm the Renamo movement. Opposition members of parliament refused to be seated in parliament in protest of the poll. Malawi continued receiving hundreds of refugees from Mozambique in early 2016, six months after RENAMO fighters carried out two attacks in Tete province. The fighting in July 2015 forced more than 700 people into Malawi, and refugees say they continue to flee atrocities and killings by militias. Refugees are entering daily at the newly established Kapise ll camp in Malawi's Mwanza district. By January 2016 it was home to more than 2,500 refugees. Refugees told stories about people they believe are FRELIMO government fighters torching their houses and killing their relatives on suspicion of hosting RENAMO fighters.

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Page last modified: 11-08-2017 18:50:48 ZULU