September 8, 2005

Twelve killed in clashes over disputed municipal elections

Mozambican politicians have roundly condemned a recent clash between supporters of the country's major political parties. Twelve people were killed and 47 injured after scuffles broke out between adherents of the ruling FRELIMO party and the opposition RENAMO party in Mocimboa da Praia municipality, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The skirmish occurred during a march by RENAMO supporters to protest a Constitutional Council ruling upholding a disputed local by-election victory by the governing FRELIMO party in May.
"There have been a lot of allegations that RENAMO supporters caused the trouble, but that is not true - we got news that the houses of local political leaders from both sides were burnt down. It is not clear what went wrong, and we do not encourage this; we are asking the authorities to investigate," RENAMO spokesman Fernando Mazanga said. "We must be careful not to paint a picture that there is violence between RENAMO and FRELIMO. This is a local problem and will be dealt with in that province [Cabo Delgado]," he added.
FRELIMO spokesman Edson Macuacua said investigators from the capital Maputo had arrived in the municipality on Thursday to determine the reasons behind the confrontation.
"It was not the police that fired on protestors, but instead we received reports that supporters from both sides had guns," he added.
Although international observers endorsed the outcome of 2004’s general elections, RENAMO wholly rejected the results and threatened to boycott parliament. The former rebel group claimed irregularities in the final tabulation of results. FRELIMO's Armando Guebuza beat RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama to become Mozambique's president in December 2004 elections, replacing President Joaquim Chissano, who retired. Johane Zonjo of the University of Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo said although the incident was cause for concern, it did not reflect the relationship political parties usually shared in the rest of the country. "Yes, there is some bitterness among some RENAMO supporters over the recent election results but, generally, the party's support base has accepted that FRELIMO is in government," he commented. "But what is a concern is that even though it has been more than 10 years since the end of the war, there is still some tension between the two sides and people are willing to use violence," said Zonjo. (Rts)

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