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“But who do you say that I am?” Matt. 16:15

 

Pray for Peace in Mozambique

Presbyterian World Mission asks for your prayers today and in the coming weeks for the people of Mozambique as the country experiences increasing conflicts.

In October, Mozambique’s main opposition party, RENAMO, declared an end to its 21-year-old peace accord with FRELIMO, the country’s ruling party.  The 1992 accord had ended a 16-year civil war that killed roughly one million people, displaced five million more, and left the countryside littered with deadly landmines.  In recent months, dozens of people have died in clashes between RENAMO and Mozambican security forces or in RENAMO attacks on civilian targets.  The conflict threatens to disrupt democracy and development in Mozambique and could draw neighboring countries into a broader regional conflict.

Mozambique’s churches have called for a national day of prayer on 1 December 2013 to promote peace and democracy across the nation. Please join our sisters and brothers in Mozambique in praying for:

  • Peace, justice and security for all of Mozambique’s people;
  • Wisdom, insight and safety for Christian leaders in Mozambique, including the PC(USA)’s partners in the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique (IPM) as they seek to build peace and promote equitable development in the country;
  • Just use of Mozambique’s resources to enable all of the nation’s people to enjoy fullness of life.

Learn more about the background surrounding the conflicts in Mozambique.

A prayer by Rev. Mark Koenig, Director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations is below. Please pray with us for the people of Mozambique.

Creator God,
you give life,
you establish justice,
you make us for each other.

We pray for the
people of Mozambique
who after many years of peace
face the renewal of violence,
violence that could disrupt democracy
and derail development.

Turn the people and the leaders from violence.
Inspire them to seek peaceful solutions
to differences that lead to justice and security
for all the people of Mozambique.

Guide the Christian leaders and community of Mozambique.
We pray especially for the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique.
Bless their efforts to make peace
and promote development that will benefit all the people.

Grant wisdom and vision
so that the nation's resources are used
to help all the people enjoy the fullness of life you intend.

We pray in Jesus' name.

Amen.

Background: Understanding MozambiqueRENAMO’s declaration came at the end of a year of heightened tensions and renewed clashes between government forces and the guerrilla movement-cum-opposition party. In late 2012, RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama began calling for a renegotiation of the terms of the 1992 peace accord.  A meeting between the two parties in December 2012 failed to produce any agreement, and RENAMO established a camp in the Gorgongosa Mountains to train paramilitary forces, prompting a dramatic escalation of tensions.  Mozambican forces took up positions close to the RENAMO camp.  In early April 2013, police raided RENAMO’s offices in Muxunge, arresting 15 RENAMO leaders. RENAMO responded by attacking a police station in Muxungue, in central Mozambique, killing four officers.

On 17 June, RENAMO attacked a Beira arms depot, killing seven soldiers. RENAMO said it would paralyze economic activity by shutting down the country’s main north-south highway and the sole railway line connecting the coalfields in northern Mozambique to the Indian Ocean port of Beira.  On 21 June, RENAMO reportedly ambushed a truck and a passenger bus on the EN1 highway, killing at least two.  The attacks prompted mining company Rio Tinto to suspend coal shipments and evacuate personnel.

Tensions continued to escalate as Mozambique moved toward local government elections on 20 November.  Mozambique’s parliament accepted a number of RENAMO’s demands for reforms, but rejected calls for the elections to be postponed.  Parliament also balked at RENAMO’s demand that the party (which garnered 16.5% of the popular vote at the last elections) be given the same number of seats on the country’s National Electoral Commission as FRELIMO. (RENAMO had earlier rejected a plan to depoliticise  the Commission altogether.)

RENAMO launched repeated attacks on military and civilian targets in the country’s central Sofala region in the last half of 2013 resulting in dozens of casualties. At the end of October, shortly after RENAMO declared an end to its truce with FRELIMO, government forces overran two RENAMO bases.  RENAMO claimed that the actions were an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate its leader, Dhlakama.  However, the seizure of the RENAMO bases has not halted the attacks.

The conflict threatens to have regional consequences. Neighboring Zimbabwe, which actively supported FRELIMO during the civil war, has begun to train Mozambican troops and has said it is “closely monitroring” the situation.  Zimbabwe gets roughly 90% of its fuel from the Beira-Feruka oil pipline that traverses central Mozambique.  In November, Zimbabwe increased security along its border with Mozambique.

RENAMO emerged shortly after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975.  Originally, the guerrilla movement was backed by minority-ruled South Africa and Zimbabwe (then-Rhodesia) in an effort to destabilize the FRELIMO government and undermine support for liberation movements in their own countries. For sixteen years, FRELIMO and RENAMO were locked in a brutal civil war that devastated much of the country, leaving it one of the world’s poorest nations.  A 1992 peace agreement ended the war and set the stage for democratic elections in 1994.  FRELIMO won the elections and has governed ever since. Mozambique has enjoyed a long period of rapid economic growth, fuelled largely by the exploitation of mineral resources. But critics charge that nepotism and corruption have meant that few benefits if this growth have reached the country’s people, most of whom continue to live on less than $1 a day.

Local government elections took place as scheduled on 20 November. There were few incidents of violence on election day, despite RENAMO’s threats to disrupt polling. With RENAMO boycotting the election, the country’s third largest political party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), looked set to be the main beneficiary, capitalizing on dissatisfaction with both FRELIMO and RENAMO.   However, sporadic fights between FRELIMO and MDM supporters marred the campaign. In Beira, three people died when Mozambican security forces violently dispersed an MDM rally a few days before the election.  The clashes could be ominous as Mozambique prepares for national elections in October 2014.

Learn more about our mission work in Mozambique.

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