FAST Update Mozambique: Semi-annual risk assessment Jan - June 2005


Risk Assessment

Positive developments dominate the first half of 2005, the six month period since Mozambique held its third multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections. Conflictive events have levelled off more than in any period in the past few years, and levels of domestic cooperation have increased. Frelimo, and its candidate Armando Emílio Guebuza, won by a very large majority, even in constituencies formerly regarded as Renamo strongholds.

Renamo, along with most opposition parties, rejected the election results on the grounds that there had been massive fraud. International and national observers, who initially had declared the elections free and fair, confirmed later that the elections had been tainted by a considerable number of technical irregularities, including the disappearance of ballot boxes, results sheets and intimidation of voters. The opposition issued a declaration in Maputo, calling on the international community to persuade the government to hold a rerun, a request met with rejection especially as the opposition call included a plea for money to be made available to that effect. Leading up to the installation of the new Parliament and the inauguration of the new President, the opposition continued to reject the election results. The opposition leader, Afonso Dhlakama, was absent from the inauguration of the Head of State and failed to appear at a lunch which the new President hosted for the leaders of opposition parties.

In the few couple of months after the elections relations between the ruling Frelimo party and other opposition parties were tense, although at no time was there any hint of violence. The coalition around Renamo maintained its stance against Frelimo over electoral fraud; and Frelimo refused to concede to the opposition's accusations of missing ballots, nor to their demands for bringing to count officials who had committed irregularities, or of a recount of contested voting stations. While not accepting the legitimacy of the results the opposition subsequently came to accept the status quo, partly due to Frelimo's overwhelming victory, and partly because the donor community rejected calls for a rerun. They were then quick to turn their attention to current events and parliamentary matters.

Dhlakama has faced criticism from within his own party for being personally responsible for the defeat. Benjamin Pequenino, a prominent Renamo party member, even demanded his resignation so that the party could renew itself. Calls by political observers such as the journalist Salom=E3o Moyana of Zambeze for Renamo, and PDD - Raul Domingos' party - to consider a merger, were rejected by the latter on the grounds that with Afonso Dhlakama at the head there was no guarantee of substantive renewal.

It seems, however, that the country is now moving towards a sort of entente after the initial post-election turbulence and there is no reason to fear that this trend may be reversed. There are two reasons for this cautious optimism. First, there have been calls within Renamo from the increasingly dominant group who are not comfortable with the sabre-rattling language of the old guard, for renewal of the party and a moderate tone towards the ruling party. They appear to believe that the strength of the opposition will come from addressing substantive issues that concern the electorate. Afonso Dhlakama has acknowledged some of these criticisms, recently surprising observers, as well as his own followers, by calling on everyone to recognize Armando Guebuza as their head of state and abstain from insulting him. The second reason has to do with Guebuza's ruling style. In stark contrast to the former government, which many perceived to be weak in its commitment and effectiveness in dealing with peoples' growing concerns about levels of corruption, state lethargy and crime, he has placed considerable emphasis on assertively addressing these issues. In so doing, Guebuza has disarmed the opposition while at the same time rallying support behind Frelimo.

The language in which both the opposition as well as the government have couched their political message in recent months suggests that the positive trend in domestic cooperation will continue. Any negative development is likely to result from the government's inability to honour its election promises in which case people might take to the streets.

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