Opposition blamed for kill plot

2009-06-10 18:06

Maputo - Mozambican police on Wednesday said they suspected bodyguards of a rival political party leader in the assassination attempt of presidential candidate Daviz Simango.

Alexandre Guiador, police district commander for the northern city of Nacala-Porto, said police reports from the scene implicate Afonso Dhlakama's bodyguards in Tuesday's failed assassination attempt, which injured a policeman and two onlookers.

Had stolen police rifle to use in the attack

Guiador said a stolen police rifle used in the attack was later confiscated from Dhlakama's residence.

Dhlakama and Simango are rivals in Mozambique's October 28 presidential election.

Both Dhlakama, leader of main opposition party Renamo, and Simango, leader of the breakaway Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM), hope to unseat President Armando Guebuza of ruling party Frelimo.

According to Guiador, Dhlakama's guards wrestled away a policeman's gun and fired it as Simango passed through a crowd of supporters at the plaza where he was scheduled to speak on Tuesday.

Guiador said no one was shot but the policeman suffered light injuries.

"Ten minutes after (Simango) arrived on the scene, two cars appeared carrying members of the Renamo leader's security team," Guiador said.

'There was a fight for possession of the gun'

"They assaulted a policeman who was there and his colleagues tried to intervene in vain. There was a fight for possession of the gun."

Guiador said one policeman was able to remove the cartridge from the gun, but a single bullet remained in the chamber.

"They managed to tear the gun away from our policeman," he said.

"They fired one shot. It's unknown whether it was fired in the air or whether it was directed at a specific target."

Guiador said the bodyguards broke the windows of Simango's vehicle before police restored order.

The gun was later found at Dhlakama's temporary residence in Nacala-Porto, Guiador said.

"We found the arm at the home where (Afonso) Dhlakama is staying," he said.

"We had to talk with Renamo's security chief. When (Dhlakama's guards) grabbed the gun from the policemen, they turned it over" to the party security chief, he said.

Guiador said the MDM has filed a complaint against Renamo. He said police have turned the case over to the attorney general's office, which will decide whether to file charges.

So far no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

the momentum from his victory to form the breakaway MDM

Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga on Tuesday denied any involvement of the party's leaders.

Mazanga blamed the MDM for stirring up trouble in heavily Renamo areas by trying to persuade Renamo members to abandon the party.

"What may have happened is that some local members got angry over the MDM's tactics," Mazanga said.

Simango left Renamo last year when its leaders refused to run him for re-election as mayor of Beira, Mozambique's second city.

He won the election with 62% of the vote, and used the momentum from his victory to form the breakaway MDM in March.

Frelimo, the party that has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975, has already nominated Guebuza to stand for re-election.

Guebuza won with 64% of the vote in 2004. Analysts say it would be a long shot for either Simango or Dhlakama to defeat him.

- SAPA

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