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Cablegate: Clashes Between Frelimo and Renamo Heat Up In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 001154

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
STATE FOR AF/S, DRL, AND INL/AAE-AHENRY-PLOTTS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM MZ RENAMO FRELIMO
SUBJECT: CLASHES BETWEEN FRELIMO AND RENAMO HEAT UP IN
SOFALA PROVINCE


Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

Summary
-------
1. (U) Reports of friction between the ruling FRELIMO party
and the main opposition party, RENAMO, have increased over
the past weeks, ahead of Mozambique's December 1- 2 general
elections. On August 12, violence broke out between RENAMO
armed guards and police in the town of Inhaminga in the
central province of Sofala. One police officer was killed.
Although the current situation in Inhaminga is described as
calm, scuffles between the two groups continue in the hotly
contested province, according to local press reports. End
Summary.

Background
----------
2. (SBU) The 1992 Rome Peace Agreement (RPA) called for the
demobilization RENAMO troops. It also contained a clause
allowing an armed RENAMO security unit "responsible for the
personal security of its highest ranking leaders...for the
period between the ceasefire and the elections." Despite
this proviso, the party has retained a force of some 150 men
in strongholds in the Sofala province, on the grounds that
the unit protects RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama's home in the
region. Under the RPA, this group was to be integrated into
the Mozambican state police force following the 1994
elections. However, in 1998, Dhlakama declared that he did
not want his bodyguards integrated into the police, allegedly
denying the RPA contained such a clause. While it appears
true that Dhlakama prefers to maintain his guard unit
separate from the police force, it is equally true that there
has been little or no visible effort on the part of the
Government (GRM) to resolve the issue. End Background.

FRELIMO and RENAMO Clash as General Elections Approach
--------------------------------------------- ---------
3. (U) Reports of skirmishes between members of the ruling
FRELIMO party and the main opposition, RENAMO, have increased
over the past weeks, causing some skeptics to question the
stability of the peace Mozambique has enjoyed over the past
12 years. On August 12, reports surfaced in the local press
of gunfire between armed RENAMO "presidential guards" and the
police's Rapid Intervention Force (RIF) in the town of
Inhaminga in the central province of Sofala, causing worried
citizens to flee into the bush for safety. According to most
reports, the clash broke out after RENAMO guards entered the
police station in Inhaminga, demanding the release of two
RENAMO men detained on accusations of assault on a local
FRELIMO official. The police did not open fire and allowed
the detainees to be removed. RIF forces from Beira were
called in later to assist the local police in recapturing the
prisoners, at which time gunfire was exchanged. At least one
local policeman was killed by RENAMO guards during the
incident. Local authorities say the situation in Inhaminga
is currently calm with shops, schools, and public
institutions open again. Post has learned from regional and
local police officials in Beira that police will be deployed
throughout the district from now until the post electoral
period. Despite such assurances, scuffles between the two
groups continue to be reported in the press.

4. (U) On August 17, local police said a group of 15 RENAMO
guards armed with AK-47s attacked a vehicle in Cheringoma,
also in Sofala province. No casualties were reported, but
the group made off with over USD 4,000 in cash and
belongings. Unofficial sources in the press claimed the
armed men in question were the same "presidential guards"
driven out of Inhaminga a week earlier. The RENAMO political
delegate in Sofala denied the police version of the attack.
Reports of further shooting in Cheringoma surfaced again on
August 24, however, the Sofala provincial police command
neither confirmed or denied the incident in the press.

Comment
-------
5. (SBU) Friction between the two groups has lingered in
RENAMO strongholds in Sofala province since the signing of
the RPA. Some local and personal conflicts in this highly
contested region take on political overtones when those
involved belong to opposing parties. Although little press
attention is usually given to these incidents, such reports
receive heightened attention during pre-election periods.
Some private newspapers have published editorials playing
down the events, reminding readers that such stories are
commonplace during elections and are being used to the
political advantage of the two increasingly uneasy parties.
There is also little concern that such incidents will erupt
into full blown fighting.

6. (SBU) Nevertheless, these incidents highlight the distrust
between the two main parties, and the need for continuing
efforts to establish a culture of political tolerance. The
clashes in Sofala imply that the country's Electoral Code of
Conduct is not working. The Code, drafted earlier this year
by smaller parties in the RENAMO-UE coalition and signed by
both RENAMO and FRELIMO, commits signatories to observe
principles of non-violence up to and during the election
period. Although it is uncertain how these recent skirmishes
will affect the elections, it seems clear that such acts are
likely to continue and to remain front page news in the run
up to the general elections. End Comment.
DUDLEY

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