Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday confirmed that a major military offensive is under way to destroy the terrorist groups that have been murdering citizens and burning their villages in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
He was speaking at an election rally in the Cabo Delgado district of Mocimboa da Praia, one of the areas worst hit by the insurgency.
Nyusi led a march of thousands of supporters from the local airstrip, through the streets of Mocimboa town, to the site of the rally, where he condemned a recent claim by the main opposition party, Renamo, that "Frelimo brought Al-Shabaab to Cabo Delgado".
The terrorist group is known locally as "Al-Shabaab", although it does not seem to have any formal connection with the Somali organisation of that name.
Nyusi said the Renamo claim was offensive to the victims of the terrorist raids, and to the hundreds of young Mozambicans in the defence and security forces who are in the bush fighting against the insurgents.
"I am in Mocimboa to tell you that Frelimo is with you", he told the crowd, adding that he had been invited to the district "to show that Mocimboa supports the Frelimo candidate".
In the closing days of the election campaign, Nyusi has been criss-crossing the country. On Thursday, he was in three provinces - Cabo Delgado, Zambezia and Sofala.
In the Sofala capital of Beira, he suggested that voters should just look around them and see that their city (run by the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM) is poorly administered, and does not constitute an example of good governance.
In the neighbouring town of Dondo, Nyusi stressed that Frelimo still regards it as a priority to keep the country at peace, as a basic condition for achieving any development goal.
In the five year governance period now drawing to a close, "in my head, there was only room for the word, peace, peace, peace. In the next governance cycle, if you vote for Frelimo and for me, we shall always continue working to preserve peace, because it's with peace that you build democracy".
But with peace won, attentions could now shift to employment and work. "The next cycle is one of work, work, and work", he said. "The government will invest strongly in the productive sector. The revenue from the exploitation of natural resources will be used to promote productive activities which encourage job creation".
He urged voters to beware of the "false promises" made by some politicians in order to win votes.
"Some of them are promising to raise the wages of public servants, but they don't say where the money will come from", said Nyusi. "We in Frelimo, we are relying on work, work and work, encouraging and financing productive activities, so that there can be an increase in production and income, and hence revenue for the country, which will make it possible to improve living standards".