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Mozambique Faces Critical Security Threat

Bottom Line: After two decades of relative post-civil-war peace, Mozambique is seeing a resurgence of violence and the fact that the country made the largest natural gas discovery in the world this decade plays into the mounting tensions. Local elections this week are marred already by violent clashes.

Analysis: In December 2012, things took a turn for the worse when former-guerrillas-turned-opposition party Renamo got only two of eight seats on the country’s new electoral commission, sending a clear message that the long-time ruling Frelimo party was in charge. In October this year, Renamo withdrew from the 1992 peace deal and the security situation has been on a downward spiral since.  This summer, Renamo threatened to attack a critical rail transport link that runs from Zimbabwe to the port of Beira in Mozambique—a key line that now cannot run without military security at all times. Sporadic clashes have ensued in key flashpoint areas such as the provinces of Nampula and Sofala. Foreign companies with oil, gas and mining operations in Mozambique have reason to be worried because the violence is now extending to kidnappings.  In October alone, we saw 15 kidnappings for ransom.
On 18 November, clashes in the second-largest city of Beira between Frelimo and Renamo supporters and riot police saw more than 20 people injured ahead of local elections on 20 November, which Renamo boycotted.

Mozambique’s gas potential plays into all…

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