Mozambican Opposition Fails in Latest Bid to Rule Some Provinces

  • Ruling party votes down proposal to change constitution
  • Flare up in Frelimo-Renamo clashes adds to strain on economy

The Mozambican parliament blocked a proposal from the main opposition to make changes to the constitution that would allow it to govern regions of the southern African country where it won more votes than the ruling party in elections last year.

Monday’s vote was the second attempt this year by the Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, to win concessions on provincial devolution in central and northern regions. The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, used its majority to defeat the proposals.

Ivone Soares, leader of Renamo in parliament, told lawmakers the latest result was “part of a strategy aimed at driving Renamo to war, and distracting the people from the real problems in the country.”

A flare up in conflict between Renamo and Frelimo has added to strains on Mozambique’s economy from a slump commodity prices. The metical has weakened 37 percent against the dollar this year, the worst performer among African currencies monitored by Bloomberg after Zambia’s kwacha.

The two sides disagree on how many have died in recent clashes between their armed forces. Renamo was supposed to disarm following a peace accord in 1992 that led to the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. It has retained its armed wing and claims Frelimo has won every election since then by fraudulent means.

A ceasefire in September 2014 brought to an end a year-long conflict in central Mozambique in time for elections the following month, but fighting has flared again this year. In September, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama’s convoy was ambushed twice in the center of the country. The government has rejected Renamo’s claim that the two ambushes were attempts to kill Dhlakama.

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