Mozambique plans constitution changes to bolster peace


Mozambique, 24 May 2016 - Mozambique heads for default after missing loan repayment deadline.

MAPUTO, Mozambique - Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi vowed Wednesday to introduce constitutional changes to decentralise power as part of peace efforts between his Frelimo party and the opposition Renamo group.

Renamo rebels fought a 16-year war against the ruling Frelimo party until 1992, and unrest again boiled over between 2013 and 2016.

Nyusi said changes to how provincial governors are appointed and to provincial elections were a result of "dialogue on peace that I have been maintaining with Afonso Dhlakama, head of Renamo."

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Nyusi held a meeting with Dhlakama last year in the remote Gorongosa mountains where Dhlakama has been in hiding since 2015, surrounded by armed loyalists.

The president called for both sides to support national reconciliation, saying "effective peace will not come solely from the decentralisation package."

The proposed constitutional changes will now go before parliament.

"If this happens it will be a constitutional revolution," Domingos do Rosario, politics professor at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, told AFP.

"But it remains to be seen whether the hardliners of Frelimo will approve these changes. It means that Renamo could have a major number of provincial governors and district administrators."

The 2013-2016 fighting often focused on the country&39;s main roads, with Renamo attacking government convoys and civilian vehicles, and soldiers accused of ruthlessly targeting suspected rebels.

The violence, which ended after Dhlakama announced a truce, forced thousands of people to escape to government-run camps, relatives&39; homes or across the border to Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Renamo, which also holds seats in parliament, has long been seeking greater decentralisation and better integration of its supporters into the police and military.