Mozambique’s opposition Renamo party cancelled a planned rally on Thursday in the port town of Beira after a senior official was shot and wounded on Wednesday, as the ruling party rejected claims it was behind such attacks.
Manuel Bissopo, the party’s secretary general, was shot by unknown assailants in Beira, the second largest city in the southern African country and his party’s stronghold. He was taken to hospital, police said, and his bodyguard was killed.
Renamo’s leader, former civil war rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, put off the planned rally but has not spoken about the attack on Bissopo yet, party spokesman Antonio Muchanga said.
Bissopo was wounded in the leg and arm, he added.
“We condemn the attempt to silence the opposition. It is a deliberate attack on democracy. We want those responsible for the shooting to be brought to justice,” Muchanga told Reuters.
“They want to perpetuate a single party system, while the country adopted democracy,” he said.
The attackers shot Bissopo moments after he gave a news conference to denounce attacks on Renamo members, actions he blamed on the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) that he said were acting at the behest of the ruling Frelimo party.
“We deny that Frelimo and the government are behind the attempted assassination of Mr Bissopo,” Frelimo spokesman Damiao Jose said in reply.
“Also, we have to say that Frelimo is not engaging in pursuing Renamo members. We play by the rules of democracy, we don’t work in the shadows,” he told Reuters.
More than 2,000 Mozambicans have fled to Malawi to escape fighting between government forces and rebels in the coal-mining province of Tete in the last three weeks, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said last week.