from ARIMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – A new Mozambican government to be in place after the national elections in October will have the rare opportunity of being the first administration to work under a peaceful and conducive atmosphere since independence 44 years ago.
Undeterred by the conflict that has battered the country for much of the four decades, it is thus anticipated that Mozambique can now fulfill its potential based on the vast discoveries of gas in recent years, as well as improve services and address rampant poverty.
Such problems have thrived for years under the tensions marked by intermittent terror waged by militants in the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) over differences with the government led by the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO).
The new government can also now focus on addressing new security concerns such as the growing Islamic radicalism north of the country, particularly the province of Cabo Delgado.
A wave of optimism follows a newly-agreed peace deal to end decades of conflict.
“A lasting agreement is in the national interest,” said Dr Alex Vines, Catham House Research Director, Risk, Ethics and Resilience and Head of Africa Programme.
The think-tank analyses and promotes the understanding of major international issues and current affairs.
The recently-signed peace deal paves way for peaceful elections, which will be the sixth multi-party polls on October 15.
According to the National Election Commission, 39 parties and three coalitions will contest the upcoming legislative and presidential elections.
“However, in reality, this electoral contest is between FRELIMO and RENAMO. The main competition will be for the provincial governorships and parliamentary seats in the National Assembly, rather than for the presidency,” Vines stated.
Polls will be seen as the first immediate test of the August agreement.
Vines believes if the deal sticks, the domestic focus should then move onto poverty reduction, combating inequality, education and solving the new security crisis with Islamic militants in Cabo Delgado.
Government’s efforts to address the crisis received a major boost this week after the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) offered to assist.
“IOM has experience in many countries dealing with situations of violence and radical extremism,” IOM Director-General, Antonio Vitorino, assured.
Some 200 people have been killed in the region that is projected to be a hub of the exploration of natural gas.
Lewis Jamo, an analyst, believes a united government would overcome the challenges.
“Problems have boomed in this country because the government has been distracted by intermittent conflict perpetrated by rebel elements,” he said.
Jamo said while the peace deal pointed to a bright future, it will not be plain sailing.
“Even the most peaceful of countries go through blips. However, I gain confidence from the fact that for the first time in decades, political leaders are on the same page,” he said.
Peace has largely eluded the country of some 30 million people since independence from Portugal.
Civil war plagued Mozambique from 1977 to 1992. One million people were estimated to have died from the conflict and hunger.
Despite the peace deal in 1992, there have been intermittent clashes perpetrated by militants within the main opposition.
– CAJ News