Maputo march for peace and security

Protests against rebel violence and abductions

Tens of thousands of Mozambicans marched in Maputo and the port cities of Beira and Quelimane on 31 October in protest over the renewed threat of armed conflict by Renamo rebels, as well as an increasing amount of abductions by criminal gangs.

The protests were organised by civil society groups and religious organisations amid attacks by Renamo rebels in the centre and north of the country.

The attacks followed the 21 October government ambush on the base of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, currently on the run.

Protesters criticised the government of president Armando Guebuza for failing to offer adequate protection to its citizens during the ongoing armed clashes which they fear could trigger a return to civil war.

They also fear that the attacks may scare off international investors developing Mozambique's coal and offshore gas deposits, which have fueled the country's ecomonic boom. Australian mining company Rio Tinto announced on 1 November that it is withdrawing expatriate employees' families over safety concerns.

In addition to the threat posed by Renamo rebels, Mozambicans are angered over the growing number of kidnappings for ransom over the last two years. In the past criminals targeted wealthy and middle-class individuals but have increasingly turned to kidnapping children. A recent high-profile case involving the killing of a kidnapped boy in Beira caused widespread outrage in Mozambique.

Protesters blame the police and government for failing to prevent the abductions, while many Mozambicans suspect collusion in the kidnappings by corrupt police and civil servants.

A presidential guard was among six people jailed on 21 October for his involvement in abductions. The member of the elite police unit that protects the president was jailed for 16 years, alongside two other policemen.

Photo. Mozambique's presdient Armando Guebuza