Mozambique goes to the polls

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 15, 2014

Mozambicans go to the polls on Wednesday in national elections that will determine what political party will control the country’s vast gas and coal reserves which are said to be worth billions.

Analysts expect the ruling Frelimo party to win, although its presidential candidate, Defense Minister Filipe Nyusi, was virtually unknown before campaigning began earlier this year.

Wednesday’s vote is Mozambique's most closely contested election since independence in 1975.

Opposition is coming from former rebel Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the National Resistance Movement (Renamo), and from a new party, the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM), which is appealing to young Mozambicans.

The MDM, led by Beira Mayor, Daviz Simango, is only five years old, but it is aiming high.

In 2013, Renamo boycotted local elections, arguing that the ruling Frelimo party had breached the peace deal that ended Mozambique's 16-year-long civil war in 1992. Renamo and Dhlakama retreated back to the bush and into hiding.

They threatened to take up arms again and rekindle the brutal war between the two political factions.

Dhlakama only recently reemerged from hiding. He signed a new peace agreement with the government, paving the way for elections.

Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza (Frelimo) is not seeking re-election having completed two terms in office, he is barred from a third and he now plans to devote his time to his business activities.

He is one of the country's richest men and has interests in energy, banking and the construction sectors amongst others.

The country has seen some election clashes but has remained largely peaceful ahead of the vote.

Image: BBC