Mozambican president sworn in

Opposition party boycotts inauguration ceremony

Mozambique's new president Filipe Nyusi was sworn into office on 15 January at a ceremony that was boycotted by the main opposition party Renamo, which rejects the results of October's elections.

The 55-year-old former defence minister from the ruling Frelimo party came first in the presidential race last October, taking 57 per cent of the vote and beating his main challenger, veteran Renamo opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama who won 36 per cent.

However Dhlakama claims the elections were fraudulent and in addition to boycotting Nyusi's inauguration, he and his 144 Renamo deputies failed to attend the opening of parliament on 12 January.

Dhlakama has also been threatening to create a parallel government in six provinces (out of 11) in the central and gas-rich northern regions of the country, to be known as Republic of Central and Northern Mozambique, of which he would become president.

Nyusi said his priority will be stabilising the current volatile political situation, opening “constructive dialogue with all political forces and civil society organisations to promote peace." Nyusi is considered a protogé of his predecessor Armando Guebuza, who appointed him defence minister in 2008, and stepped down after serving the maximum two terms as president.

Nyusi won his election campaign on a “continuity ticket” for Guebuza's Frelimo party which has governed Mozambique since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

The new president inherits a growing economy with massive potential but faces an uphill challenge getting Renamo on his side. He has promised to upgrade the agricultural sector, tackle youth unemployment and redistribute some of the vast wealth being generated by the country's burgeoning gas and oil developments in the north.

Nyusi is set to name his new cabinet in the coming days.