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Published On: Sun, Oct 27th, 2013

More Violence and Killings As Mozambique Prepares for Elections

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As Mozambique´s Electoral Commission has recruited all necessary staff for the country´s municipal elections on 20 November, an attack on a bus by Renamo militants and the death of a Renamo M.P. during a raid, suggest that the country continues descending towards civil war. Foreign involvement has been suggested, and analysts warn about the abuse of the elections, with exclusively European and US observers, to create an Ivory Coast – like scenario.

soldiers_mozambiquensnbc , – National Election Commission prepares 20 November Elections – Analyst warns against foreign-backed destabilization attempt during elections. Joao Beirao, the spokesperson for Mozambique´s National Elections Commission (CNE), told reporters during a press briefing on Friday, that all required staff for manning thousands of polling stations during the municipal elections on 20 November had been recruited. Beirao added, that the recruitment period had been extended because of difficulties in some regions, in acquiring the necessary documents such as criminal record certificates.

municipal_elections_mozambique-2013The CNE will now begin the training of those election officials, who in turn will train the staff that will be working at the polling stations during the elections, said Beirao, adding that some of the staff was the same people who already have taken part in registering voters in the municipalities between May and June.

With regards to questions, whether the CNE would exclude people had committed electoral offenses at polling stations during the 2009 general elections, Beirao replied that the CNE was not responsible for pressing criminal charges. Albeit there had been some problems at certain polling station, with staff making a high number of vouchers invalid by adding additional ink dots, it is the task of the state prosecutor and the police authorities to assure that those involved in election fraud cannot be chosen as officials. The fact stresses the reason for the delay in completing the recruitment due to difficulties, in some districts, to acquire criminal records.

Beirao added that the printing of the vouchers is now underway, and so is the accreditation process of election observers and journalists. Beirao said, that to date, 86 foreign observers and 77 journalists had been accredited. 59 of the observers come from European Union (EU) member states and 27 come from the USA, said Beirao.

Political analyst, Christof Lehmann, raised concerns about the observers and warned about the possibility of an Ivory Coast like scenario, where the French – backed opposition launched a French – backed coup d´etat after declaring irregularities with the election. The country´s President, Laurent Gbagbo was ousted during the French – backed coup. The UN, still in possession of the sealed voting boxes has so far refused a recount. Lehmann said:

“Taking into account that security in Mozambique has deteriorated since the traditionally US and European – backed Renamo has begun retraining former fighters, has begun recruiting new fighters, and started rearming in 2012, to exclusively have observers from those countries who stand to gain most from destabilizing Mozambique is not exactly the wisest decision.”

In an article, published in nsnbc international on Friday, 21 October, Lehmann warned that strong, Western and transnational interests with ties to the energy sector, may be behind Renamo´s decision to rebuild its military forces and to destabilize the country. Lehmann warned, that it would not be surprising if the municipal election on 20 November would be used to further destabilize the country.

Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama - reacivated Renamo´s militants in 2012

Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama – reacivated Renamo´s militants in 2012

Renamo launches attack on a bus, killing one and injuring nine. Even though Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama had pledged that there would be no further attacks on the North-South Highway, armed Renamo militants murdered one and injured nine, in an attack on a bus in the central Sofala province on Saturday morning.

Four were seriously injured, informs Radio Mozambique. The attack was carried out on the highway, between the Save River and the small town of Muxungue.

Since Renamo militants began to stress their demand for “a cut in Mozambique´s coal and gas revenue” in earnest, most traffic on the North-South Highway has to be organized in protected convoys.

The bus, travelling without the protection of the convoy was an easy and soft target for the militants, who earned themselves a reputation as Africa´s most atrocious Western-backed insurgency during the 16 year-long civil war in Mozambique, which ended 21 years ago when a peace accord was signed in the Italian capital Rome.

After forcing the bus driver to stop the vehicle, the insurgents robbed the passengers of their possessions and then set the bus on fire. A passenger told a radio journalist that the “rebels” first shot the driver, and then began firing indiscriminately at the passengers. The surviving bus passenger said:

“We managed to escape from the place. … We walked for about five kilometers until we found other cars. Then we heard a loud explosion. So we lost our property.”

Among those who were seriously injured by the Renamo rebels indiscriminate shooting spree, are two children. The nine injured, including the two children, receive medical treatment in the Muxungue Health Post.

It is unknown why the bus driver decided to risk driving the stretch of the North-South Highway without the protection of a convoy. Convoys were arranged after Renamo, in June, promised to “free Muxungue” and launched an attack in which several were killed.

It is possible that the driver of the bus had believed that it was safe to travel without a convoy, because on 17 October, Renamo president Dhlakama had called on Mozambique´s President, Armando Gebuza, to withdraw the escorts on the grounds that he had “ordered an end to all attacks and no Renamo unit would disobey his orders”. 

gas-naturalSituation likely to deteriorate further after a Renamo M.P. was killed during a raid on a Renamo base.

On Friday, Renamo announced that the right-hand man of Renamo president Dhlakama, Armindo Milaco, has been killed during a raid on its military base by Mozambique´s armed forces.

The former child soldier Milaco, who became Renamo´s second most powerful man, was reportedly killed when a howitzer shell hit the base. Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga informed AFP:

“Our colleague Armindo Milaco died as a result of government forces attack on our leader´s base on 21 October. … He was hit by a howitzer.”

 Monday´s attack on the Renamo base prompted the former anti-Communist, US – backed “rebels” to declare that the peace accord from 1992 was over. Analysts, including Christof Lehmann however, pointed out that the peace in fact ended when Renamo began rebuilding its military forces and launching attacks in 2012, while demanding ” a cut of Mozambique´s coal and gas revenues”.

Lehmann pointed out that Mozambique is set to become one of the world´s 10 largest producers of coal and 20 top producers of natural gas, and that a proposed, USD 50 billion gas liquefaction project would make Mozambique the world’s second largest manufacturer of liquified gas after Qatar.

In his recent article he adds, that it is highly probable that Renamo and foreign stakeholders behind them will use the polarization in Mozambique´s polulation during the 20 November elections, to further destabilize the country.

Ch/L – nsnbc

Related articles:

Mozambique: Will for Peace Versus Transnational Gas Giants

Coal and Gas fuel possible Return of War to Mozambique

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