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SPECIAL REPORT

Old foes face off for Mozambique's elections in test of fledgling peace deal (2/3)

Mozambique faces high-stakes elections after years of skirmishes that followed a 15-year civil war.
Mozambique faces high-stakes elections after years of skirmishes that followed a 15-year civil war. FRANCE 24 screen grab

Some 13 million voters head to the polls in Mozambique on Tuesday for presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections seen as key to consolidating a fragile peace in the southern African nation.

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Mozambique's ruling party Frelimo, which has been in power since independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to win the elections. But the main opposition party Renamo could make ground in key states where, for the first time, provincial governors will be elected.

Frelimo won the war of independence only to plunge into 16 years of conflict with Renamo, whose militia still hide out in the mountains in central Mozambique, where the civil war never really ended. The opposition party’s leaders face dissent as a military faction refuses to disarm despite peace agreements.

“It means that after the elections there are still armed men there from Renamo who might be willing again to go back to the bush and fight the governing party in order to make political gains," says Zenaida Machado of Human Rights Watch Mozambique.

The opposition has accused the ruling party of resorting to unfair tactics during a violent campaign that has left seven dead and hundreds more injured. While 76 European Union observers have been deployed for Tuesday’s vote, it's a drop in the ocean for a country larger than any in Europe.

Click on the player to watch the report by Caroline Dumay and Frank Hersey.

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