Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi was sworn in on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by cheering supporters and dignitaries but boycotted by opposition politicians disputing his October election win.
After a civil war that killed around a million people before a 1992 truce, and subsequent periodic violence, Nyusi signed a deal with rebels-turned-opposition party Renamo in August meant to bring definitive peace to a country on the cusp of becoming a global gas exporter.
Instead, October’s election exacerbated old wounds: Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party won with over 70% of votes with main rival Ossufo Momade saying the poll was rigged.
Neither Momade nor any Renamo lawmakers were present for the swearing-in at Independence Square in central Maputo.
Speaking after the ceremony, Nyusi said he would seek to ensure peace lasts. “Peace has been and will be our absolute priority,” he told the crowd.
Renamo secretary general Andre Magibire told Reuters the party does not recognise Nyusi as legitimate leader, but would not be drawn back into violence.
“There’s no way we can derail the peace deal, even though Frelimo keeps pushing us towards war,” he said.
Frelimo spokesman Caifadine Manasse said: “The opposition is crying foul, in general it uses this tactic to spark instability”.
Renamo is fracturing. A breakaway group of former fighters have staged attacks in former heartlands.
Low-level fighting threatens to draw resources from efforts to tackle an Islamist insurgency in the north, on the doorstep of major gas projects led by Exxon and Total.
Mozambique’s top court dismissed Renamo’s challenge against the results in November.
Analysts say the August peace deal is likely to survive but implementation has stalled amid infighting, with some in Renamo’s political wing believing the party backed down too easily. Some agitate for protests or even violence, said a party lawmaker who asked not to be named, adding there was still party discipline.
After the election result, Momade’s time as party leader seems limited, said Alex Vines, head of Africa programme at the Chatham House.
Contenders for the job could include an “ambitious bunch” from a faction of Renamo’s political wing, some accused of encouraging attacks from former fighters, he said.
Momade’s relationship with Nyusi was central to the peace pact and his leadership remains important for the ongoing process, Vines said. The group of disgruntled former fighters – and some Maputo-based politicians – want him to resign.