Tag Archives: Mozambique elections

Mozambique elections – big win for major Frelimo fraud

African Arguments

Mozambique Elections: big win or big fix for Frelimo? – By Cate Reid

Nyusi

After a long and chaotic counting process, Mozambique has a new president. Filipe Nyusi, the little-known candidate of the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) party, counted on the party’s traditional loyalists and a hard-fought campaign (which rapidly raised his profile) to come through with a convincing 57% of the vote. The opposition and civil society also say that significant fraud played its part in his victory.

The main opposition party, Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) has been complaining about this vocally since polling day. This saw a raft of administrative problems including voting tables opening late or not at all, crucial election materials missing from polling stations and both EU and opposition observers barred from entering polling stations.

Analysis by the Mozambique Political Process bulletin concludes that there were problems at 10% of polling stations – a level considered to be very high and more likely to be down to ‘organised disorganisation’ than mere accident. Academic Joe Hanlon says that in a country with extensive experience of elections and years to prepare, there was no excuse for such incompetence.

Both Renamo and second opposition party the Movimento Democrático de Moçambique (MDM) have rejected the results, with Renamo last week declaring themselves the winners with a rather exaggerated 80% of the votes for their leader Afonso Dhlakama. Days before the official count was concluded on 30 October, Dhlakama called for Frelimo to form a ‘unity government’ with Renamo, arguing that this is a democratic way to start making amends for electoral fraud that they claim was the only reason Renamo did not win.

Frelimo, on the other hand, speaks of “irregularities here and there” and remains in firm denial that there was significant fraud. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, and blame does not lie only with Frelimo. The absence, for example, of opposition party observers in some locations was not only due to obstruction; MDM’s recruitment of observers seems to have been disorganized and there are even rumours that opposition representatives accepted bribes to stay away from polling stations.

In an interview in the independent Savana newspaper last Friday, MDM’s leader Daviz Simango argued that electoral manipulation began long before polling day. Dhlakama says that Frelimo orchestrated the obstruction of the electorate in opposition areas from registering to vote. The EU’s Chief Observer Judith Sargentini described the campaign itself as ‘unbalanced’, giving Frelimo an ‘unfair advantage.’

Criticism from the US, which followed the elections, stresses ‘abuse of state resources’ in the campaign, which Sargentini says lasted throughout polling day – including Frelimo observers being given preferential treatment by polling station staff.  The EU chose its words carefully, calling polling day ‘orderly’ but raising questions over the lengthy and poorly managed tabulation process.

Also questionable is the very high disparity between turnout levels in different provinces. This phenomenon has increased over the years, with this election showing levels far above the average 50% in Frelimo strongholds such as Gaza, with areas won by Renamo – such as Zambezia – with much lower levels. There were also unusually high numbers of spoiled and blank ballots in opposition areas and provinces involved in a close contest, such as Niassa.

Taking into account the extreme improbability that remote rural provinces such as Gaza’s Massangena and Massingir could really attract turnout of over 90%, statistical analysis by the Mozambique Political Process Bulletin estimates that ballot stuffing gave Nyusi at least 105,000 false votes. What is more difficult to quantify is whether the tens of thousands of discounted ballot papers in areas where Nyusi won by only a few thousand replaced valid votes for the opposition, and by how much.

Frelimo’s objective was to avoid at all costs a second round presidential run-off, which would have potentially united the opposition vote and placed Nyusi at real risk of losing. There was talk of a comprehensive Frelimo plan to rig the elections, but many believed that with new checks and balances in place to ensure fairness and higher levels of scrutiny, any efforts to manipulate the results would be insufficient to avoid the close result suggested by pre-election polls.

Despite Dhlakama continuing to ride a wave of support throughout the election, increased quotas for opposition election observers and a more balanced National Election Commission (CNE) committee, Frelimo has clinched a victory that leaves little room for manoeuvre. Even with growing evidence of fraud, it is still unlikely that this will be sufficient to alter the final result.

Renamo and MDM argue that this is not the point – that the irregularities themselves, particularly given how widespread and diverse they seem to be, should invalidate the results. It is wrong, Dhaklama says, to make exceptions for Mozambique on the grounds that it is ‘Africa.’ Democracy, he argues, is democracy – be it in Europe, Africa, or anywhere else. But the opposition argument, that their losses were simply down to fraud, is debatable – without a full re-run of the elections it is hard to take a landslide victory by Frelimo and find enough evidence to change the overall outcome.

Many are also sceptical about Dhlakama’s motives, saying that what he proposes is not so much democracy as a way for him to secure his place in history – and a better income. There are already rumours he has already been ‘accommodated’ in a deal that will give him a slice of the country’s potentially huge gas industry.

Dhlakama’s early announcement that Renamo would not restart the conflict that destabilized Mozambique in the run up to the elections would be more convincing if the group would hand in its weapons. But it has not and is unlikely to do so; it does not want to weaken its bargaining position. Many in the party believe it did better than MDM largely because it has weapons. This mentality highlights one of Renamo’s major problems in competing with Frelimo; it does not behave like a political party. It lacks policies, competent people, and as a party won fewer votes than its leader.

People voted for Dhlakama because of his charisma and the chance he might bring change  from the Frelimo-dominated status quo (or tactically, to encourage a second round). But far fewer have confidence in Renamo’s ability to govern – and the party received fewer votes than its leader.

MDM too has a long way to go. With Renamo back on the political scene, much of the anti-Frelimo vote has gone back to Frelimo’s traditional foe. A foe which many opposition supporters regard as better equipped to be a match for Frelimo than MDM, who they see as weak and unable to handle the kind of intimidation perpetrated by the ruling party during the campaign.

Simango claims that obstruction and fraud were directed particularly at MDM, whose gains in last November’s local elections caused Frelimo real concern and also left Renamo worried that they may be ousted as the main opposition. The threat posed by MDM may be one of the few points on which Frelimo and Renamo agreed – and if there was some unofficial collaboration during these elections, it served its purpose.

Though they more than doubled their number of seats in parliament to 17, MDM did not fulfil the high expectations that grew after its local election success. Since then it has not proven itself – a combination of limited experience but also little time. It also still lacks convincing policies and leader Daviz Simango is not considered particularly charismatic. A significant number of MDM voters chose Nyusi for President, leaving Simango fewer votes than his party.

Frelimo, for all its faults, is the only party the electorate have really seen govern nationally and when it comes to corruption, which has been losing Frelimo support, many are also of the view that neither opposition party would behave much better.

Nyusi now has a chance to show the electorate that he represents real change and start to address the discontent that has been growing with Frelimo. If he does not, the party knows that the electorate will not hesitate to give the opposition another chance. But like Dhlakama, Nyusi proved more popular than his party at the ballot box, giving him perhaps a stronger mandate to do things his way. Former president Armando Guebuza remains head of the party and wields considerable influence, but it seems his days are numbered as many in the party want him replaced as early as possible next year.

We are yet to see what Nyusi is really made of, but despite the circumstances in which he has been elected he has maintained his own reputation for honesty and hard work – and many are hopeful that he will bring a more youthful and democratic era to Mozambican politics.

Cate Reid is a freelance journalist.

Mozambique election commission confirms election results but on split vote

Mozambique Political process Bulletin/allAfrica

Mozambique: Divided CNE Declares Frelimo Victory

Photo: Angop

Filipe Nyusi.

The National Elections Commission (CNE) approved the results of the 15 October election giving victory to Filipe Nyusi as president with 57% of the vote and Frelimo with 144 of 250 seats in parliament.

The results are close to those predicted by the parallel sample count.

But in a meeting which ran from 11.30 am yesterday to 4 am this morning, the CNE split and only approved the results by a vote 10-7, with opposition nominees and some civil society voting against. Renamo today filed a formal protest.

The CNE was required by law to report today, but it admits that it is continuing its investigations into a wide range of complaints including late opening of polling stations, conflicting numbers in different copies of some results sheets (editas), suspected ballot box stuffing, reports of pre-marked ballots in circulation, and opposition ballots improperly made invalid by polling station staff (MMVs) They also say that some editais were missing, but do not identify how many.

Renamo in a statement Tuesday in Beira said it won the election and had won more than 139 seats in parliament. MDM in a statement this afternoon rejected the results. Both said they rejected the election because misconduct was too widespread.

In a meeting with civil society, Renamo candidates Afonso Dhlakama said he had a large file of evidence of misconduct which he would submit to the Constitutional Council but refused to show it civil society or the media. In his meeting with civil society, Dhlakama called on his members to oppose the result, but not to resort to violence.

And Dhlakama continues to call for a neutral government of technocrats or a government of national unity for at least two years.

Turnout in the election was 48.64%. Results for president are:

Filipe Nyusi 2,761,025 – 57.03% Afonso Dhlakama 1,762,260 – 36.61% Daviz Simango 306,884 – 6.36%

Parliament seats

Frelimo 144 Renamo 89 MDM 17

Total seats in the 10 provincial parliaments:

Frelimo 485 Renamo 295 MDM 31

A total of 754,113 ballot papers considered invalid at polling stations were sent to Maputo and reconsidered by the CNE, and 174,614 were accepted as valid. This means 23% were accepted, which is higher than in previous elections. In addition, of 466 protested votes, 323 were accepted as valid.

By comparison, the 2009 results were:

Turnout 44.63%

President: Armando Guebuza 75.01% Afonso Dhlakama 16.41% Daviz Simango 8.59%

Parliament Frelimo 191 Renamo 51 MDM 8

All Renamo and MDM complaints rejected by district courts

Only 24 complaints were made by political parties to district counts about the elections. Only one, by Frelimo relating to Tsanago, Tete, was accepted. All others were rejected for lack of evidence or for being more than 48 hours after the relevant result was announced, explained Supreme Court judge Pedro Nuatitima at a press conference Thursday morning. “The courts can only work with proof and not with allegations,” he explained. Most of the rejected complaints came from Renamo and MDM.

Relating to Tsangano, Tete, where Renamo militants destroyed some polling stations and stopped and prevented voting, the district court ordered the National Elections Commission (CNE) to hold elections in those polling stations later. But the CNE says it only needs to do so if the missing polling stations could make a difference to the result.

Under law changes agreed earlier this year in negotiations with Renamo, any complaints about electoral misconduct are made first to the district court. And complaints were made demanding recounts, challenging numbers, claiming there were false results sheets (editais), and that polling stations had not opened. But according to Nuatitima, Renamo was not able to meet the rules it put into the law. It often failed to provide any evidence of its claims, and many were submitted after the 48 hour deadline. At least four of the rejections have been appealed to the Constitutional Council.

Judge Nuatitima also told the press conference that so far the supreme count knows of 374 people being judged for electoral crimes by district tribunals during the campaign and voting. Of those, 129 have been acquitted, 133 convicted and sentenced to punishments ranging from fines to one year in jail, and 112 processes are still under way.

The largest number of people charged were in Nampula (98), Tete (82), Mancia (58) and Zambezia (53). About 70% of those charged were accused of damaging campaign material of other parties. On polling day 15 people were charged with disrupting polling stations and 6 people were charged with multiple voting.

Nuatitima noted that violence in several cities after voting ended, even if it was during the counting process, has been treated as common crimes, and not as electoral crimes.

Mozambique – Renamo’s election strategy and use of violence

ISS

Renamo’s renaissance, and civil war as election strategy

In 2009, the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) recorded its worst ever showing in an election. Its candidate, rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, was trying so hard to play the respectable politician, yet he received only 650 679 votes (16,41% of the total). This was, astoundingly, over 300 000 votes fewer than he had garnered in the 2004 poll.

At the same time, Renamo won just 51 seats in Parliament, down from 91 seats in the previous session. By anyone’s estimation, it was a catastrophic showing for the party that had effectively invented opposition politics in the country. It had fought to end the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique’s (Frelimo’s) de facto one-party state both during the country’s bloody civil war (which only ended with the 1992 peace agreement), and in the post-civil war democratic elections that followed thereafter.

It seemed as if Dhlakama and his Renamo movement were a spent force. Incoherent and disorganised, and dogged by its dodgy historical links to the apartheid government in South Africa, the party had lost ground not only to the ruling Frelimo but also to the young upstarts of the Movement for Democracy in Mozambique (MDM). The MDM, a breakaway faction of Renamo, had sprung up to claim 8,59% of the electorate.

The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail

Of course, Renamo cried foul, alleging that the election was rigged and initially refusing to recognise the results. But its leaders must have known that the sheer scale of the drop in support indicated that the real problem lay within its own ranks. If Renamo were to remain relevant – if they were to seriously compete for power in 2014, and for a share of Mozambique’s impending oil and gas boom – then something needed to change.

And so the party returned to doing what it does best: no, not electoral politics, but armed resistance. In 2012, Dhlakama began to resurrect his fighting force, re-establishing a military base in the Gorongosa region and arming Renamo veterans. By October 2013, he was confident enough to rip up the ceasefire that had ended the civil war in 1992. ‘Peace is over in the country,’ said a Renamo spokesperson. These weren’t just words: Renamo launched deadly attacks on targets such as police stations and highways, resulting in dozens of deaths (both military and civilian). The civil war was back, albeit at a far lower intensity.

At the same time, Renamo announced that it would boycott the upcoming municipal elections in November 2013, decrying the politicisation of the electoral system and the blurring of lines between Frelimo and the state (both valid criticisms). It made good on this threat, and its absence allowed the MDM to make significant gains in many of the country’s most important municipalities.

Renamo, it seemed, were weaker than ever before. ‘Dhlakama has backed himself into a corner from which there is no obvious exit,’ wrote veteran Mozambique researcher Joseph Hanlon in late 2013, a conclusion shared by most analysts. But Dhlakama found a way out.

Eventually, Renamo’s intransigence and the threat of even more violence forced the government to the negotiating table – although critics say the government should have acted much sooner to nip the Renamo threat in the bud. Anxious to deal with the situation before the presidential elections, President Armando Guebuza allowed Renamo to extract several key concessions. These included greater representation for Renamo in state institutions, especially the armed forces; reform of the electoral system to make it harder to rig elections in Frelimo’s favour; and a general amnesty for Dhlakama and his supporters.

The new peace deal was concluded on 5 September 2014, with Guebuza and Dhlakama shaking hands in a ceremony in Maputo. The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail.

At this point, the odds were still stacked against Dhlakama and Renamo. With little over a month before the polls, his opponents had enjoyed a substantial head start on campaigning. And surely Mozambicans would not take kindly to political groups that make their demands at the barrel of a gun: that threaten to plunge the country into civil war if they don’t get their way.

Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised, but still people came

In fact, the opposite was true. Everywhere Dhlakama went, he received a hero’s welcome. Unlike Frelimo rallies, where crowds were lured by the promise of free merchandise and celebrity entertainment, Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised. But still people came, and waited for hours just to get a glimpse of the man who had somehow turned himself into a beacon of hope for the huge sections of society that feel marginalised by Frelimo’s length rule.

‘Dhlakama has won admiration by apparently forcing Frelimo to make political concessions it has been resisting for decades. He even seems to be enjoying – perhaps unjustly – much of the credit for the peace that has come just in time for the election. Emerging from hiding only after the peace agreement was signed was a clever move that brought his supporters out in droves to welcome him as a hero,’ wrote journalist Cait Reid for African Arguments.

Far from being Renamo’s death knell, its resumption of hostilities was a political masterstroke. It was able to depict itself as the party that was able to take real action to defend its principles, which it argued were for the good of Mozambique as a whole. Dhlakama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail echoed this, and emphasised values such as tolerance and unity, which contrasted sharply with Frelimo’s either-with-us-or-against-us approach.

Oddly enough, by pulling out of the democratic process, Renamo was able to demonstrate its commitment to it; at least as far as its constituency is concerned.

The election results bear this out. Although the final results have yet to be released, provisional results and a parallel count from the Electoral Observatory of Mozambique give Renamo about 32% of the presidential vote – double their proportion from 2009. Regardless of this feat, Renamo are challenging the results and alleging that the vote was tampered with. It is a dramatic return to form, and positions Renamo once again as the most serious challenger to Frelimo’s electoral stranglehold. As unlikely as it may seem, Renamo’s return to the bush had proved to be a most effective campaign strategy.

It is also useful when it comes to negotiating the terms of Renamo’s future democratic engagement. On Sunday, Dhlakama declared the election a ‘charade.’ He warned that while he was committed to peacefully negotiating his differences with Frelimo, he couldn’t necessarily control his angry supporters – thus leaving the threat of violence hanging in the air as he voiced his demand for a government of national unity along Kenyan or Zimbabwean lines. Given Renamo’s history, and the new evidence of the strength of its support base, Renamo remains a threat that Frelimo can’t afford to ignore.

Simon Allison, ISS Consultant

Mozambique votes against background of resource boom

Reuters

Reuters) – Mozambicans voted on Wednesday in elections expected to return the ruling Frelimo party to power in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, which is looking to escape years of poverty and conflict by tapping into its huge energy resources.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (0600 BST) across the Indian Ocean nation, whose 2,500 km coast stretches from Tanzania in the north down to South Africa.

More than 10 million voters were registered to take part in the elections for a new president, parliament and provincial assemblies. Foreign donors and investors hope the ballot will help to bury old animosities still lingering from a 1975-1992 civil war fought between Frelimo and its old foe Renamo.

Ordinary Mozambicans say they want whoever wins the vote to use the country’s newly discovered resources of coal and natural gas to end poverty and inequality and to create more jobs.

“The leaders must think of the people, they must know how to invest the resources,” said engineering student Elder Mesquita, 24, walking to a polling station with his wife and infant son.

Frelimo is a former Marxist liberation movement that has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975 and its presidential candidate, former defence minister Filipe Nyusi, campaigned hard to maintain the party’s grip on power.

However, he is facing a tough challenge from both the Renamo leader and former rebel chief Afonso Dhlakama and from a rising third force in the former Portuguese colony — Daviz Simango and his Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).

Nyusi and Dhlakama voted early in the capital Maputo, as did outgoing Frelimo President Armando Guebuza, who is barred by the constitution from standing for a third term. Guebuza urged all Mozambicans to vote and to shun violence.

The Frelimo candidate Nyusi said he was confident of victory, calling the day “a celebration for Mozambicans”.

The election, the fifth presidential vote since a 1992 peace deal ended the civil war, is “the most competitive in the history of the country”, John Stremlau, vice president of peace programmes at the Atlanta-based Carter Center, told Reuters.

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST

Stremlau is one of more than 1,000 international observers, including from the African Union and the European Union, who will be monitoring Wednesday’s voting.

If Frelimo’s Nyusi, 55, fails to secure more than 50 percent of the total ballots, he will face a deciding second round run-off with his nearest contender in which the anti-Frelimo votes would be united against him.

The new president will oversee the bringing into production of large-scale offshore natural gas and oil projects in the north of Mozambique that are already being developed by investors such as U.S. oil major Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Italy‘s Eni.

The raging Ebola epidemic in three West African nations has cast a pall over the wider region and stoked global alarm, but Mozambique in the southeast corner of Africa, so far Ebola-free, is widely viewed as a bright prospect on the continent.

The IMF sees Mozambique’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth topping eight percent this year, though it remains among the world’s least developed countries and the majority of its more than 25 million people live in poverty.

“The real test of this transition moment is whether the political leaders who have historically fought each other will think in terms of a government of national unity, so that you will have inclusivity in the aftermath,” Stremlau told Reuters.

He noted all of the main political leaders had said they would accept the result.

CALLS FOR EQUALITY, INCLUSION

Renamo’s Dhlakama and MDM’s Simango concentrated their campaigns on attacking what they say is the stranglehold Frelimo has long maintained over political and economic power in Mozambique. They have promised more inclusive government.

“Mozambique belongs to everyone” was the slogan of MDM’s Simango, 50, a Renamo defector and civil engineer who made a credible first showing in the 2009 presidential vote and whose party made gains in local government elections last year.

Over two years leading up to the vote, Dhlakama’s armed Renamo partisans clashed sporadically with government troops and police in the bush and ambushed traffic on a key north-south highway, frightening away tourists and triggering some concerns that Mozambique could slide back into a civil war.

The white-haired, bespectacled former guerrilla leader, who is 61, only emerged from a mountain hideout last month to ratify a deal with Guebuza reaffirming a 1992 peace pact. He had accused the Frelimo government of trying to eliminate him.

Joaquim Tobias Dai, president of the Mozambican Association of Economists, said that managing popular expectations over the much-trumpeted coming hydrocarbons boom would be a challenge.

“Whoever wins the election must have the strategy in place … The next five years will determine a lot,” he added.  Reuters

Mozambique Democratic Movement wants non-violent future

Mail and Guardian

The Mozambique Democratic Movement says it will offer voters a non-violent alternative as the country heads to the polls.

One of three presidential candidates, the Mozambique Democratic Movement's Daviz Simango seeks to push for reforms that would dilute the powers of the president. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Mozambique’s upstart opposition the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) on Monday vowed to take on the two traditional political heavyweights in the country by offering a non-violent alternative in polls taking place this week.

While the ruling Frelimo party and its main opposition rival Renamo have been at each other’s throats during an insurgency that has lasted nearly two years, the MDM has been quietly focusing on growing its support base.

“We are different from the others, first [of] all we don’t have the armed tradition,” said MDM leader Daviz Simango. “MDM is growing fast and [a] lot of people are surprised.”

The party has mayors in four cities, most wrested from the ruling party in key municipal polls last year. “It’s easier for us to run the country,” Simango added.

But the leader of the party formed just over five years ago is concerned that defeat in Wednesday’s election for either of his rivals could spell trouble.

“The question is if one of them loses the election, are they going to accept the decision?” said Simango. “I am worried … because we need to keep peace,” to develop the country.

He pointed out that the disarmament plan agreed to in a recent peace pact was yet to be implemented. “Renamo forces are still armed and they are going to elections with guns.”

Analysts believe the MDM could change the political landscape in this nascent energy producer dominated for decades by Frelimo and Renamo, the two sides that fought each other in a 16-year civil war.

The economy of the southern African country grew an annual average of 7% over the past decade, and foreign investors are scrambling for a slice of its coal and gas resources. Despite its booming economy, it is estimated that half of Mozambicans live on under a dollar a day.

A man of the people
Simango has been mayor of the second biggest city, Beira, for over a decade – first for Renamo and later as an independent before forming the MDM.

He fashions himself a man of the people, whose no frills door-to-door campaign has won hearts and minds among Mozambique’s poorest.

“Where the people are we are there,” said the softly spoken mayor. “We are taking supporters from Frelimo, we are taking supporters from Renamo.”

He said: “People are not happy with Frelimo [because] a lot of things are not happening … the poverty is still there.”

“The government says they are trying to bring down poverty but we still have a small portion of people becoming very rich.”

He said his party would push for reforms that would dilute the powers of the president. It also wants to see more opposition lawmakers in what has hitherto been a largely rubber-stamping Parliament.

In the outgoing 250-seat Parliament, Frelimo has 191 seats, compared to Renamo’s 51 and MDM’s eight. “The president has a lot of power.” he said. “We need to separate the political power from the justice.”

Simango is a qualified civil engineer whose father was one of the leaders of the independence Frelimo movement. He says his parents were “executed” in a Frelimo purge.

At 50, Simango is the youngest of the three presidential candidates vying for the top job in elections due on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s elections will be the southern African country’s fifth since a 1992 peace agreement halted a 16-year civil war and ushered in the first democratic elections in 1994. – AFP  M&G

Mozambique – President Guebuza and Renamo’s Dhlakama sign peace deal

Al Jazeera

Mozambique rivals sign peace deal

President Armand Guebuza and ex-rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama bring an end to two-year conflict ahead of October poll.

 05 Sep 2014
 

Afonso Dhlakama, who came out of hiding on September 4, returned to Maputo for the peace accord [EPA]
Mozambique’s president and the leader of the former rebel group Renamo have signed a landmark peace deal in Maputo, ending a two-year conflict that has rekindled memories of a brutal civil war.

President Armando Guebuza and Afonso Dhlakama, who came out of hiding on Thursday, signed the deal on Friday in front of about 100 diplomats and dignitaries.

The two leaders embraced prompting jubilant cries and clapping from those gathered, the AFP news agency reported.

For two years government forces and fighters loyal to Dhlakama have clashed, with the rebel leader accusing the state of reneging on a peace deal that ended Mozambique’s brutal civil war.

Mozambique rebel leader returns to capital

Around one million died as a result of the 15-year conflict, which ended in 1992.

In the recent clashes, Dhlakama’s supporters attacked buses and cars on the country’s main north-south highway, while government forces raided his bush hideout.

Dhlakama hailed the deal on Friday as an “important step forward,” but also accused the government of “intolerance”.

“After the beautiful dream of two decades ago when peace seemed to be for always, we saw a systematic concentration of power in the hands of those in power … many are in this room,” Dhlakama said.

He added that he “hoped today’s accord can bring to an end the one-party state”.

Mozambique has been ruled by civil war victors Frelimo since independence.

The party is expected to handily win upcoming elections in October. There were fears that the polls could be marred by violence.

Dhlakama has lost every presidential election since 1994 and Renamo is struggling to retain its status as the biggest opposition party.

The peace deal will see Renamo fighters integrated into the military and the party given a greater say in election oversight bodies.  al jazeera

Mozambique – Renamo signs peace deal as elections loom

BBC

Mozambique rivals agree ceasefire ahead of elections

Fighters of the former rebel movement Renamo receive military training in Mozambique's Gorongosa's mountains (November 2012) Renamo is thought to have retained about 1,000 armed men

The government of Mozambique has signed a ceasefire with the Renamo opposition party in a bid to end hostilities ahead of elections in October.

The deal follows two years of low-level clashes between armed members of Renamo and government forces.

In 2013 Renamo withdrew from a peace deal signed more than 20 years earlier which had ended a protracted civil war.

Last week, as part of the negotiations, the government began releasing Renamo prisoners captured in recent fighting.

The ceasefire was signed on Sunday night in the capital Maputo between Renamo’s chief negotiator Saimon Macuiane and the government after almost a year of negotiations.

Mr Macuiane told the AFP news agency that the “definitive agreement” came into operation as of 22:00 local time (2000 GMT) on Sunday.

“We have begun a new era for the country,” Mr Macuiane said, describing the ceasefire as an “important step towards national reconciliation… and a durable peace”.

Correspondents say that Renamo has been fighting a low-level insurgency since party leader Afonso Dhlakama returned to the bush in 2012, two decades after he agreed a peace deal with the governing Frelimo party.

Sunday’s late night agreement follows a general peace agreement between the two sides a week ago – including a deal over the integration of Renamo’s remaining members into the Mozambique security forces.

After winning independence Mozambique's Frelimo fighters became the governing party but were soon pitched into a civil war against rebels backed by neighbouring South Africa.After winning independence Mozambique’s Frelimo fighters became the governing party but were soon pitched into a civil war against rebels backed by neighbouring South Africa
People crossing a tea plantation in Gurue province.  Mozambique agriculture remains underdeveloped. It is hoped that any peace deal may improve Mozambique’s economy – the country’s agriculture sector remains seriously underdeveloped

Renamo officials say that Mr Dhlakama – who has been under cover in the remote Gorongosa mountains in central Sofala province for nearly a year – did not travel to the capital to sign the ceasefire himself, even though he pledged earlier that he would commit to doing so once his party reached a final agreement with the government.

“He mandated me to declare it,” Mr Macuiane said, at the same time indicating that Mr Dhlakama would meet Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza at a later date.

“It is obvious that there will be a high level, symbolic meeting later on,” he told AFP.

Parliament is expected to start the process of implementing the peace agreement over the next week.

Presidential and national polls are due to be held on 15 October, Mr Macuiane said.  BBC