5 March 2014

Mozambique: Government and Renamo Continue Fighting Despite the Revision of Electoral Legislation

Photo: J. Jackson/VOA
Renamo rebels being re-trained for combat at a remote bush camp near Gorongosa mountains (file photo).

Maputo — When, in February, the Government and Renamo reached consensus on the revision of the electoral legislation, the Mozambicans started to dream of peace once again, after being under threat for a year.

The agreement meant the end of the clashes between the Defense & Security Forces and the armed men of the Partridge party, and of the attacks along a portion of the Save-Muxúnguè river, where the crossing was being carried out by military escorts. But it did not last long...

While the Parliament was changing the electoral law, which was done two weeks after Renamo submitted the proposal, the Government forces and the men of the party led by Afonso Dhlakama battled in Gorongosa and throughout the province of Sofala, taking human lives, both military and civilian, and causing the destruction of property and infrastructure.

The reason behind the revision of the electorial legislation is unknown, even though the decision has already been made by Parliament. So far, none of the parties, in particular the Government and Renamo, deign to tell the Mozambican people what is going on. Maybe there is another reason...

The new wave of clashes began on February 24th, just days after Renamo submitted a proposal for a revision of the electoral package to Parliament. Government forces have been accused of creating panic in the village of Gorongosa. They were firing machine guns. The local high school students abandoned their classrooms due to gunfire. At least six military trucks were seen and assumed to be on their way to Vundúzi.

Catch up on all of the incidents recorded by @Verdade since the start of the war:

February 26

Dozens of soldiers have been wounded in clashes with armed men connected to Renamo in Gorongosa, Sofala Province, central Mozambique.

The confrontation began in Gorongosa, the location of Afonso Dhlakama, when the Renamo leader's guard "repelled an advance" of the army, and the fight extended into the village in pursuit of the soldiers who had retreated. "The attacks began in the area of Nhataca and Monequera, 12 kilometers from the village and the shooting came to the village in the early evening, causing the population to flee in a bewildered state," Daniel Massasse, a local resident, said to Portuguese news agency LUSA.

Several wounded soldiers were given entry into Gorongosa District Hospital, which became surrounded by the army overnight. Others were transferred to the Provincial Hospital of Chimoio, in the capital of Manica. "There are many wounded in the military hospital. The population is quite scattered because the fighting has reached the town of Gorongosa. The few that are on the street are scared," described a local journalist.

On the same day, the mountainous Gorongosa region in central Mozambique once again became the target of Army attacks. Several local reports to LUSA claimed that a military contingent, including army and riot police (FIR), and reinforced with local troops and weapons were regularly moving through towards the direction of the mountain.

March 3

There was a loud shootout in the area of Gorongosa around 9:30PM. The roar of the guns could be heard in the village headquarters and the violence severely frightened the population. Earlier on the same day, an envoy of Government forces was attacked when it passed through the EN1 between the village headquarters of Gorongosa and Nhamapaza.

March 4

An attack against a military car, initiated by Renamo gunmen, killed four agents and injured five others from the Border Guard in Mussicadzi, Gorongosa. "Four bodies were admitted earlier yesterday afternoon and the injured were transferred to the Central Hospital of Beira, but two of them are in severe condition," said a Gorongosa Hospital official.

The attack occurred halfway between Sathundjira and Casa Banana, a former bastion of the National Resistance of Mozambique (Renamo), when the border guard command was carrying out a changing of the guard.

March 5

Clashes between the army and Renamo gunmen left the Sofala village of Cheringoma deserted. "There was an intense confrontation today at dawn between military personnel who are on the Renamo base of Dimba and Renamo men," Augusto Abílio, a Cheringoma Catholic priest noted to LUSA.

The attack occurred when the army tried to "disable" the basis of Dimba, about 30 kilometers from the village of Cheringoma, where two military trucks were seen arriving on Tuesday. There is no information about victims or damage.

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