The last 25 years of Mozambique's history have encapsulated the political developments of the entire 20th century. Portuguese colonialism collapsed in 1974 after a decade of armed struggle, initially led by American-educated Eduardo Mondlane, who was assassinated in 1969. When independence was proclaimed in 1975, the leaders of FRELIMO's military campaign rapidly established a one-party state allied to the Soviet bloc, eliminating political pluralism, religious educational institutions, and the role of traditional authorities.
The new government gave shelter and support to South African (ANC) and Zimbabwean (ZANU-PF) liberation movements while the governments of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia fostered and financed an armed rebel movement in central Mozambique called the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO). Civil war, sabotage from neighboring states, and economic collapse characterized the first decade of Mozambican independence. Also marking this period were the mass exodus of Portuguese nationals, weak infrastructure, nationalization, and economic mismanagement. During most of the civil war the government was unable to exercise effective control outside of urban areas, many of which were cut off from the capital. An estimated one million Mozambicans perished during the civil war, 1.7 million took refuge in neighboring states, and several million more were internally displaced. In the third FRELIMO party congress in 1983, President Samora Machel conceded the failure of socialism and the need for major political and economic reforms. His death, along with several advisers, in a suspicious plane crash in 1986 interrupted progress.
His successor, Joaquim Chissano, continued the reforms and began peace talks with RENAMO. The new constitution enacted in 1990 provided for a multi-party political system, market-based economy, and free elections. The civil war ended in October 1992 with the Rome General Peace Accords.
By mid-1995 the over 1.7 million Mozambican refugees who had sought asylum in neighboring Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa as a result of war and drought had returned, as part of the largest repatriation witnessed in Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, a further estimated 4 million internally displaced returned to their areas of origin.
Under supervision of the ONUMOZ peacekeeping force of the United Nations, peace returned to Mozambique. In 1994 the country held its first democratic elections. Joaquim Chissano was elected president with 53% of the vote, and a 250-member National Assembly was voted in with 129 FRELIMO deputies, 112 RENAMO deputies, and 9 representatives of three smaller parties that formed the Democratic Union (UD). Since its formation in 1994, the National Assembly has made progress in becoming a body increasingly more independent of the executive. By 1999, more than one-half (53%) of the legislation passed originated in the Assembly.
After some delays, in 1998 the country held its first local elections to provide for local representation and some budgetary authority at the municipal level. The principal opposition party, RENAMO, boycotted the local elections, citing flaws in the registration process. Independent slates contested the elections and won seats in municipal assemblies. Turnout was very low.
In the aftermath of the 1998 local elections, the government resolved to make more accommodations to the opposition's procedural concerns for the second round of multiparty national elections in 1999. Working through the National Assembly, the electoral law was rewritten and passed by consensus in December 1998. Financed largely by international partners, a very successful voter registration was conducted from July to September 1999, providing voter registration cards to 85% of the potential electorate (more than 7 million voters).
The second general elections were held December 3-5, 1999, with high voter turnout. International and domestic observers agreed that the voting process was well organized and went smoothly. Both the opposition and observers subsequently cited flaws in the tabulation process that, had they not occurred, would have strengthened the outcome. In the end, however, international and domestic observers concluded that the close result of the vote reflected the will of the people.
President Chissano won the presidency with a margin of 4% points over the RENAMO-Electoral Union coalition candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, and began his 5-year term in January 2000. FRELIMO increased its majority in the National Assembly with 133 out of 250 seats. The RENAMO-UE coalition has 116 seats; there is one independent; no third parties are represented.
The opposition coalition did not accept the National Election Commission's results of the presidential vote and filed a formal complaint to the Supreme Court. One month after the voting, the court dismissed the opposition's challenge and validated the election results. The opposition did not file a complaint about the results of the legislative vote.
conventional long form: Republic of Mozambique
conventional short form: Mozambique
local long form: Republica de Mocambique
local short form: Mocambique
Data code: MZ
Government type: republic
Administrative divisions: 10 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Cabo Delgado, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Maputo, Nampula, Niassa, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia
Independence: 25 June 1975 (from Portugal)
National holiday: Independence Day, 25 June (1975)
Constitution: 30 November 1990
Legal system: based on Portuguese civil law system and customary law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Joaquim Alberto CHISSANO (since 6 November 1986); note - before being popularly elected, CHISSANO was elected president by Frelimo's Central Committee 4 November 1986 (reelected by the Committee 30 July 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Pascoal MOCUMBI (since NA December 1994)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 3-4 December 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Joaquim Alberto CHISSANO reelected president; percent of vote - Joaquim Alberto CHISSANO 52.29%, Afonso DHLAKAMA 47.71%
unicameral Assembly of the Republic or Assembleia da Republica (250 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote on a secret ballot to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 3-5 December 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - Frelimo 48.54%, Renamo-UE 38.81%; seats by party - Frelimo 133, Renamo-UE 117
note: Renamo-UE ran as a multiparty coalition; none of the other opposition parties received the 5% required to win parliamentary seats
Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the president and judges elected by the Assembly
Political parties and leaders: Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frente de Liberatacao de Mocambique) or Frelimo [Joaquim Alberto CHISSANO, chairman]; Mozambique National Resistance - Electoral Union (Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana - Uniao Eleitoral) or Renamo-UE [Afonso DHLAKAMA, president]
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, MONUC, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMISET, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), black, and yellow with a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; the black band is edged in white; centered in the triangle is a yellow five-pointed star bearing a crossed rifle and hoe in black superimposed on an open white book
- See also : Mozambique