Moz mourns as protest death toll reaches 41

Published Nov 13, 2000


Maputo - The death toll from last week's protests against Mozambique's 1999 general election rose to 41 on Monday after two more people died in hospital, state radio said.

Protests against the December election by supporters of the opposition Renamo movement in northern and central Mozambique began on Thursday and were suspended after two days by Renamo's leader, Afonso Dhlakama.

The Mozambican government declared a day of mourning on Monday for those who died in the clashes between police and Renamo supporters. Among those killed were six policemen and one government official.

The government, which accused Renamo and Dhlakama of inciting the violence, ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast and vowed to prosecute those behind the violence.

"Legal procedures will be followed and those involved will be charged individually for these acts," said the government.

It accused Renamo supporters of torturing a policeman and mutilating his genitals in Montepuez district - one of the areas worst affected by the violence, in which 24 people were killed.

Police have arrested about 200 people in connection with the violence that left almost 200 injured.

A police spokesperson said on Monday that order and calm had been restored in the affected areas.

The violent protests followed accusations by Renamo that Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party rigged last December's election in parts of the country dominated by Renamo, a former rebel movement.

Earlier this year, Dhlakama threatened to form his own government in his power base in central Mozambique, after accusing the government of electoral fraud. International observers declared the election free and fair.

On Saturday, Dhlakama said he had suspended the protests to consider its reaction to the deaths of some of its supporters.

The December vote, between President Joachim Chissano's Frelimo government and Renamo, was the second in Mozambique since the end of a 16-year civil war in 1992. - Reuters

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