The year 2015 marks the fortieth anniversary of Mozambique’s independence and its twenty-first consecutive year of official multiparty political competition. In a country long torn by war—first for independence from Portugal and then between rival domestic groups—the last two decades have seen four presidential and parliamentary elections. All of them have been held on schedule, most recently on 15 October 2014. Yet the 2014 voting occurred amid the sharpest political and security challenges Mozambique has faced since 1994, including the renewal of armed clashes between the long-ruling Frelimo forces and those of its main competitor, Renamo (the Mozambican National Resistance). The country’s stalled democratization is partly due to the ruling party’s dominance, but it owes something to Renamo’s choice as well—for whatever reason, that opposition formation has signed on to a system that makes the opposition’s leader a perennial outsider. A genuine debate on the design of the political system that considers the enhancement of local and regional powers could form part of a true reconciliation process, and it could be a force helping Mozambique to resume a climb up the ladder of democratization.
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