Farming chief sacked after food riots

2010-10-12 17:01

Maputo – Mozambique's agriculture chief has been sacked after food riots last month, replaced by the interior minister who defended tough police tactics in quelling the unrest, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The ministers of industry and health were also sacked, in a move seen as attempting to bolster government efforts to fight poverty in one of the world's poorest countries.

"President (Armando) Guebuza's dismissal of ministers will make government more dynamic and help the search for solutions to the country's problems," presidential spokesperson Marlene Magaia told AFP.

Mozambique was rocked by food riots in September that left at least 14 dead, as people in cities around the country protested hikes in prices for bread, water and electricity.

Despite impressive economic growth, the country's poverty rate has stagnated at 55%. The rioting forced government to scale back the price hikes.

Agriculture minister Soares Nhaca was sacked in the reshuffle and replaced by interior minister Jose Pacheco, a trained agronomist. He's now the fourth person to hold the job in six years.

As interior minister, Pacheco sparked an outcry after claiming police used only rubber bullets during the September riots and calling protesters "outlaws and criminals".

Police later admitted to using live rounds against protesters.