The Resurgence of Conflict in Mozambique. Ghosts from the Past and Brakes to Peaceful Democracy Notes de l'Ifri, May 2017
2016 proved to be a most challenging year for Mozambique. Small-scale conflict, which started reappearing between the government and the opposition party, the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), in 2013, intensified over the course of the year, whilst peace negotiations stalled.
Secret loans guaranteed by the government and amounting to USD 1.4 billion were revealed, prompting international partners, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, to suspend their aid. To make matters worse, the country was plagued with droughts for the past two years, compromising agricultural production, and pushing it to seek food aid. However, on 27 December 2016, Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, declared a week-long ceasefire, which was extended for two months on 3 January 2017.
Since then, the opposition party and the government have agreed on a new format for peace talks, forgoing the use of international mediators, as had been done all throughout 2016, instead picking Mozambican representatives and engaging in direct communication. This ceasefire announcement could not have come at a more crucial time, as the Mozambican government is under scrutiny by international partners to clarify its hidden debt situation and audit the public companies which were involved, and as the government seeks to keep investors interested in the country’s offshore gas potential. In an effort to reassure the climate investment within Mozambique, the next leg of talks between the government and the insurgent Renamo leadership will prove crucial in securing peace. In determining the chances of success of such talks, it is important to revisit the causes of this recent resurgence of conflict, trying to understand why after two decades of peace, Mozambique was once again a country marked by conflict between the same parties of its past civil war. A closer look reveals that signs of instability were very much present in the peacebuilding model, which Mozambique had come to be known as.