Renamo barracks to defend democracy
Maputo - Mozambique's official opposition party, the former rebel group Renamo, will build barracks for its demobilised soldiers to "defend democracy", its spokesperson said Thursday.
"The provinces have asked the [Renamo] president to create their own barracks to defend democracy," Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga told AFP.
He said the first barracks will be built in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa, and in the central provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, one-time Renamo strongholds.
Mazanga said the barracks were needed to protect ordinary Mozambicans, after deadly riots in September last year left 14 dead when police fired live rounds during protests over rising food prices.
"If the government sends agents to attack people, Renamo will defend them," he said.
Renamo accuses ruling party Frelimo of violating the 1992 Rome Peace Accord that ended the southern African country's 16-year civil war, which killed some five million people and displaced millions more.
Under the agreement, a new national defence force was meant to include 15 000 soldiers from each group and divide command posts evenly, but only 5 000 Renamo fighters were incorporated, Mazanga claimed.
He accused President Armando Guebuza's administration of selectively rooting out Renamo soldiers since the leader came to power in 2005.
"From the start of Guebuza's governance Renamo-allied commanders of the national armed forces were dismissed and Renamo-allied soldiers were forcefully demobilised," he said.
Mozambique's military press office denied any forced demobilisations had occurred.
Renamo enjoyed strong support in some areas immediately after the war, but its support has since dwindled.
It claimed just 17.7% of the vote at the last elections in 2009, down from 37.7% at the first democratic polls in 1994.
Afonso Dhlakama, the party's leader since 1980, claimed 16.4% in the presidential race, losing out to Guebuza's 75%.