Mozam­bique in tur­moil as Re­n­amo bat­tles gov­ern­ment

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

MAPUTO — The of­fice of the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights says it has re­ceived “wor­ry­ing in­for­ma­tion” about armed clashes in Mozam­bique be­tween na­tional se­cu­rity forces and mem­bers of Re­n­amo, the former rebel group.

“Hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing cases of en­forced dis­ap­pear­ances and sum­mary executions, have also been re­ported,” said spokesman Ru­pert Colville.

He said the an­nounce­ment by the head of the po­lice on Mon­day that any pub­lic protest would be re­pressed raised se­ri­ous con­cerns.

Ahead of demon­stra­tions called for this week­end and next week, Colville said: “We urge the gov­ern­ment to ful­fil its obli­ga­tion to guar­an­tee that all ci­ti­zens may ex­er­cise their rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion, as­so­ci­a­tion and peace­ful assem­bly.”

Ten­sion has been ris­ing in Mozam­bique over the past few months af­ter Re­n­amo re­jected the out­come of the 2014 leg­isla­tive elections and an­nounced its in­ten­tion to seize power in six of the coun­try’s 11 prov­inces.

Mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions by the army against Re­n­amo have mainly af­fected the Tete prov­ince but the fight­ing seems to be spread­ing to other prov­inces, in­clud­ing So­fala, Zam­bezia, Nam­pula and Man­ica, ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sion. It noted about 10000 peo­ple had left the coun­try since De­cem­ber.

Se­cu­rity forces have been ac­cused of sum­mary executions, loot­ing, de­struc­tion of prop­erty, rape, ill-treat­ment and other hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. Ac­cord­ing to re­li­able sources, at least 14 lo­cal Re­n­amo of­fi­cials have been killed or ab­ducted by uniden­ti­fied in­di­vid­u­als or groups since the be­gin­ning of the year.

On Jan­uary 20, there was an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on Re­n­amo sec­re­tary-gen­eral and MP Man­ual Bis­sopo.

Re­n­amo, which was once backed by South Africa’s apartheid gov­ern­ment, be­came the main op­po­si­tion party at the end of the 16-year civil war in 1992.

“At­tacks against po­lice and mil­i­tary forces have also been at­trib­uted to Re­n­amo,” said Colville.

“Mem­bers of Re­n­amo are also re­ported to have com­mit­ted hu­man rights abuses and vi­o­la­tions against civil­ians per­ceived to be as­so­ci­ated with the rul­ing party Fre­limo, or to be co-op­er­at­ing with se­cu­rity forces.”

Re­n­amo fight­ers have been ac­cused of car­ry­ing out sniper at­tacks on some roads, which have re­sulted in a num­ber of ca­su­al­ties, in­clud­ing civil­ians.

“The lack of ac­count­abil­ity for past hu­man rights abuses and vi­o­la­tions seems to be a key com­po­nent of the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“We are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the killing on April 1 of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor Marcelino Vi­lankulo and about the lack of progress in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the March 2015 mur­der of Gilles Cis­tac, a law pro­fes­sor who had de­nounced elec­toral fraud,” said Colville.

The rights of­fice said it was alarmed by re­cent re­ports that hu- man rights de­fend­ers who were call­ing for pub­lic demon­stra­tions in favour of ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency in the man­age­ment of pub­lic re­sources had been ha­rassed and threat­ened.

The po­lice chief’s threat last Mon­day to crack down on demon­stra­tions was trou­bling, the rights of­fice said. — IOL

Afonso Dh­lakama.

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