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Decade-long peace in Mozambique in peril

Renamo members

Renamo members

(GIN) — Mozambique, enjoying a windfall from recent finds of off-shore gas, may be headed for troubled. A fragile peace has reigned over the southeast nation since a treaty in 1992 ended a 16-year long civil war. A pawn in the Cold War of the great powers, the coastal nation was heavily armed with U.S. and Russian weapons. Over a million people perished in the course of the war.

Still one of the poorest African nations, the détente between the Frelimo government and the opposition Renamo group blew up this month when government forces overran the jungle headquarters of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who escaped.

“Peace is over in this country. The responsibility lies with the Frelimo government because they didn’t want to listen to Renamo’s grievances,” Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga told Reuters.

Renamo demands more representation in the armed forces and changes to the electoral law.

It is also possible Renamo hopes to win a larger seat at the table when contracts are re-negotiated with multinational companies. Initial contracts gave foreign companies 15-year tax exemptions and mining and exploration licenses, which they were free to trade. Currently, a small elite associated with the ruling party and with strong business interests, dominates the economy.

Adriano Nuvunga, head of the Center for Public Integrity in the capital city Maputo, fears his country may not get the share of wealth it deserves. “There isn’t a way to find out whether the government has done good business,” he says. His concerns were rejected by the National Petroleum Institute (NPI). “We have a very transparent system,” said NPI chief Arsenio Mabote. “The environment in Mozambique is there for companies to invest without fearing there is corruption. You can find documents and model contracts we negotiate on our Web site. We have nothing to hide.”

Municipal elections are scheduled for Nov. 20, and presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held on Oct. 15, 2014.

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