Nyusi Sworn in as Mozambique’s Leader as Opposition Protests

Filipe Nyusi was sworn in as Mozambique’s new president today, pledging to prioritize peace as a precondition of economic development.

Nyusi, a former defense minister, won the post in Oct. 15 elections that saw the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, retain its parliamentary majority. While the election results were confirmed by the country’s Constitutional Council on Dec. 29, they are still being disputed by the Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, which finished second.

Nyusi, who was inaugurated at a ceremony in central Maputo, succeeds Armando Guebuza, who stepped down after serving the maximum two five-year terms in office.

On Jan. 10, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama said he planned to establish an autonomous region in areas of central and northern Mozambique, where he polled higher than Nyusi, and serve as its president. Talks between the government and Renamo over the implementation of a peace deal agreed to last September, including disarming Renamo’s soldiers, remain deadlocked. The peace deal allowed Renamo to take part in the elections.

Mozambique’s new parliament was sworn in on Jan. 12. Renamo deputies boycotted the ceremony to protest what they deemed was electoral fraud that handed victory to Frelimo.

Nyusi also has to address challenges posed by heavy rain and flooding in the center of the country that has claimed a number of lives and left thousands homeless. The four northernmost provinces –- Zambezia, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado -- have been cut off from the national electricity grid, and the main north-south highway was severed after a bridge was washed away in Zambezia.

Deadly Brew

Guebuza called for a minute’s silence at today’s ceremony for the flood victims and more than 70 people who died after they drank poisonous, home-brewed beer at a funeral ceremony in the northwestern Tete province last weekend.

Guebuza dismissed the remaining members of his cabinet yesterday and Nyusi is set to name a new government in the next few days.

Nyusi’s Cabinet is likely to be younger and more technocratic that Guebuza’s, Robert Besseling, principal Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk, said by e-mail from London today. Its appointment may be delayed should the president opt to incorporate members of Renamo, Besseling said.

While Guebuza remains president of Frelimo, his influence “could wane faster than anticipated,” according to Anne Fruhauf, an Africa analyst at New York-based Teneo Intelligence.

“A key signal for the degree of change will be forthcoming cabinet changes, amid growing speculation that Finance Minister Manuel Chang and Mineral Resources Minister Esperanca Bias could be replaced,” Fruhauf said by e-mail yesterday.

The development of natural-gas projects off Mozambique’s northern coastline could transform the southeast African nation’s economy, with a Standard Bank Group Ltd. report predicting gross domestic product per capita could grow to $4,500 by 2035 from about $650 in 2013 after accounting for inflation.

The government issued a decree late last year that provides the first two projects being developed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Eni SpA guarantees of fiscal and legal stability. The two companies have yet to take final investment decisions.

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