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Feb 27, 2013 | 16:49 GMT

Mozambique's Opposition Could Block Resource Development

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Mozambique's Opposition Could Block Resource Development

The Mozambique Liberation Front has ruled the country since Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and has governed from its power center in the national capital, Maputo, in the extreme southern corner of the country. The party has effectively neglected the central and northern regions of the country because what resources were meaningfully developed were primarily found near Maputo. In the past few years, however, Mozambique has begun developing two natural resource sectors in these previously abandoned regions that are attracting significant international interest. Thermal and coking coal deposits are being developed in the central Mozambican province of Tete, and extensive natural gas deposits are being drilled off the coast of northern Mozambique. The government is also rehabilitating the Sena rail line that connects Tete province to Beira and is expanding the capacity of the port at Beira to support coal exports. A second rail line that is being developed to support coal exports will connect Tete province to Nampula province and Nacala port. This stretch of rail line, which will also traverse Malawi, will travel straight through the city of Nampula — the seat of the disgruntled Mozambique National Resistance Movement. In order to securely develop these natural resource sectors and supporting infrastructure, the ruling party will need to accommodate the country's two main opposition parties — the Mozambique National Resistance Movement, based in Nampula, and the Democratic Movement of Mozambique, based in the central coastal city of Beira — to ensure that these efforts are uninterrupted. The opposition parties, which wield a large amount of influence in areas critical to the government's projects, do not want civil war, but they do want a significant stake in the government that has largely ignored it. As recent protests against the ruling party show, the government will need to accommodate its political rivals to ensure its governance in key natural resource territories is not hindered.

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