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Maputo - Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza has condemned the recent attacks on civilians and security officials, which were believed to have been perpetrated by resurrected rebel movement, Renamo.
At the time of writing, nine civilians had been killed in three attacks, while four police officers were also murdered in a shootout at a police station.
"We vehemently condemn this criminal act in which innocent people lost their lives. As government we will continue to work for our people not be intimidated and live in fear, we hope that those involved hear our message," President Guebuza said this past week in Maputo.
The chief of Mozambique’s armed forces, General Paulino Macaringue, said the military was awaiting direction from the Head of State to respond to the attacks. The military is understood to be ready to engage Renamo in combat.
Renamo waged a 16-year civil war following Mozambique’s Independence from Portugal in 1975. And its leader, Afonso Dhlakama – who had morphed into an opposition politician ‑ decamped to the bush late 2012, saying he had essentially lost faith in the Frelimo government.
More than a million people died in the civil war, in which Renamo was backed by apartheid South Africa, the US and West Germany, while another million fled to neighbouring countries.
The government believes Renamo fighters were responsible for shooting at a bus travelling from Maputo to Beira a few days after militiamen had ambushed a police station in Muxungue, killing five people (including one civilian) in a bid to free more than a dozen of its supporters who had been arrested following a raid on their party headquarters.
Renamo secretary-general, Ussufo Momade, told reporters in Maputo that they were retaliating against the police raid on their headquarters.
“We want to inform the national and international community that we are tired of being oppressed by the Frelimo government and will retaliate for each attack with all our power,” Momade said.
In a radio broadcast, President Guebuza said, "the government is always open to talks to preserve peace and stability in Mozambique".
After the attacks, haulage trucks are now being escorted when passing through Muxungue, while public transport operators have ceased travelling at night in some parts of Mozambique.
Political analyst Fabian Scherer says, “Years after the end of the war, Renamo remains tightly militarised with its ageing rebel leader, Dhlakama at the top. The party appears to have missed an opportunity to reinvent itself and contribute to modern Mozambique, which is full of economic opportunities…
“Renamo still sticks to its rivalry with the ruling party and this does not only increase the likelihood of violence during the elections next year, but could also have significant implications for the country’s economy. So, Dhlakama and his fighters, though lacking support of broad Mozambican society ‑ which fears a return to violence, could harm the country in the long-term.”
Scherer adds that: “Renamo, as a political party, has never managed to have popular appeal, and with every election it continues to lose influence. Most Mozambicans are tired of war and, and with the absence of war are confident about their future.”
He, however, points out that the Frelimo government must be seen to be addressing Renamo’s concerns so that the rebel movement does not gain broad sympathy both within and outside Mozambique.
Scherer concludes, “Even though the reports from Mozambique are alarming, it is unlikely that Renamo will be able to establish an environment characterised by long-term violence – the rebel group does not find enough support among ordinary Mozambicans.
“Renamo’s political orientation and its latest attacks are likely to further accelerate its collapse – political parties which want to be successful, have to adapt to changing socio-political conditions. Mozambique shows that parties refusing that change are without a chance in democratic systems – and that those parties tend to deploy non-democratic measures then.”