Breakaway Mozambique rebels on Wednesday threatened to step up violence if campaigning is not suspended for upcoming elections – the first after a landmark peace deal – as they claimed responsibility for two recent car attacks.
The country is gearing up for October 15 polls as it tries to shed a legacy of decades of unrest, following the completion of a historic treaty last month between the government and former rebel group Renamo, now the main opposition party.
The deal requires Renamo fighters to either return to civilian life with financial help or join the police and army. In all, more than 5 000 members are required to surrender their weapons.
But some fragmented, with one breakaway faction purporting to be the military wing of Renamo refusing to participate in the peace deal.
“If the election campaigning continues, our attacks will continue,” faction leader Mariano Nhongo told journalists in Beira via video link.
He claimed that his fighters had been responsible for two recent attacks on the vehicles of provincial heavyweights in the central Manica which left a total of four people injured.
After the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975, Renamo fought a brutal civil war against the Frelimo government that left one million people dead before fighting stopped in 1992.
However, Renamo never completely disarmed.
Earlier this month Pope Francis heaped praise on the peace deal between government and rebels, but the agreement remains fragile.
President Filipe Nyusi is hoping for a second term in office at the October polls. His Frelimo party has dominated power for more than four decades and he is expected to win.