Mozambique fears return to civil war

Activists lauch appeal for peace and criticize timing of Brazil's plans to donate military aircraft Activists lauch appeal for peace and criticize timing of Brazil's plans to donate military aircraft

The escalation of tensions between the government of Mozambique, in the hands of Frelimo (Mozambique Liberation Front), and the opposition movement Renamo (Mozambiquan National Resistance) has sparked fears that the African country could slip back into civil war, according to human rights defenders and partner organizations of Conectas in the capital, Maputo.

The rising tension coincides with a request made by the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, for Congress to authorize the donation of three Tucano T-27 military aircraft to the Mozambique Armed Forces. In a letter to the government, Conectas and its partner NGO, the Mozambique Human Rights League, expressed their concern over the measure and asked that it conduct a “risk analysis [to determine] the potential that this transfer of military equipment has to undermine peace”.

“This is not the best timing, to say the least,” said Juana Kweitel, program director at Conectas. “What is expected is for Brazil to exercise a positive influence on the Portuguese-speaking country, with which it not only has historic and cultural ties from the past, but where the current Brazilian government and some large Brazilian companies have a major presence today.”

On October 21, government forces attacked a Renamo base in Santhunjira, in the province of Sofala, which led the spokesman for the group to announce an end to the Peace Agreement signed between Frelimo and Renamo in 1992, after 16 years of civil war. The information is from the Movement of Mozambique Civil Society Outraged by Politico-Military Tension and Kidnappings. According to the group, 16 people have been kidnapped for ransom in Mozambique since the escalation of tensions. Residents of rural areas have been migrating to the cities, fearing combat. The group also draws attention to the fact that the politico-military tension in the country has diverted the State’s intelligence services and resources that could be used to investigate and solve these kidnappings.

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