Potential Hot Spots: November 19, 2000

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Violence again plagues Mozambique this time sparked by yet another election gone wrong. The trouble seems to have started on November 9 when a twelve Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) opposition protestors were killed and dozens more injured in a series of confrontations throughout the nation. Three people were killed in the northern Cabo Delgado district of Balama, three died in Moma in the central province of Zambezia, two died in the central province of Sofala, and four people were killed in the northern Nampula province. By November 10 the death toll had risen to 26, with over 100 injured. By November 14 the government had set the death toll at 40 with at least 200 injured. One of the more serious incidents occurred in Montepuez (1,600 kilometers north of the capital). 500 RENAMO supporters armed with AK-47 rifles occupied several public buildings. Twelve people died in the confrontation, including six government police officers. Tensions have been increasing in Mozambique, after an extended period of comparative stability following its 16 year-long civil war. The 1992 peace accord has been one of sub-Saharan Africa's few peace successes. Peace had been very popular in Mozambique, one of the most war weary spots in southern Africa. The renewed violence has surprised many in the country. Anglican Bishop Diniz Sengulance said "Instability after eight years of peace does not make any sense." There have been many signs of approaching trouble, however. Strategypage reported several months ago that RENAMO had admitted to having a company-sized security force (150 men), armed with light weapons. Western press sources now report that unit has 100 men. There was no indication that this unit was involved in the shoot-out in Montepuez. The election protests grew increasingly bitter. At one point RENAMO threatened to form a separate government in the six northern and central regions where it enjoys wide-spread support. Until relenting in October, RENAMO's political wing refused to take its parliamentary seats In response to the fighting, the Mozambique government condemned RENAMO leader Alfonso Dhlakama. The government said it would arrest RENAMO leaders and supporters involved in the violence. Another government spokesman said RENAMO is in the process of rearming and accused RENAMO of planning to seize power by force.

 

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