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Mozambique's opposition threatens to sabotage highway, rail line


08:47, June 20, 2013

MAPUTO, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Wednesday threatened to disrupt traffic along the country's main north-south highway and a key rail line used by foreign mining firms for transporting coal.

Jeronimo Malagueta, information head of Renamo, told a press conference in Maputo that its forces will be deployed on Thursday between the Save river and Muxungue in central Mozambique to block the traffic.

Malagueta said the move was to prevent the rail and the road being used by the government to send troops to surround Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama's residence.

Renamo has repeatedly claimed threat from the government soldiers since Dhlakama moved to Satunjira area in central Sofala province last October.

The government's news agency AIM said the threat to sabotage Sena railway, in particular, is clearly intended to prevent global mining giants -- Vale and Rio Tinto -- from exporting their coal out of Mozambique.

Coal mining has emerged as a key sector to boost the impoverished southern African country's economy. Mozambique only in recent years discovered it was sitting on one of the world's largest untapped coal reserves and holds abundant off-shore natural gas in its territorial waters along the Indian Ocean coast.

The state media said it remains unclear if Renamo will carry out the sabotage.

The threat marks the fresh tension between the Frelimo-party led government and Renamo since the two sides signed a peace treaty in 1992 to end the 16-year civil war. Renamo, backed by the then rulers of Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe), was a former rebel movement with its power base in central Mozambique's Sofala province.

Tension flared up in recent months as Renamo vows to renew the guerrilla war unless the government initiates changes in electoral legislation, among others, to end alleged political discrimination against the former rebel movement.

Renamo supporters clashed with government soldiers at a central Mozambique military base in March, killing four riot police.

In the latest case of violence, at least six soldiers were killed and three others wounded in a surprise attack and ensuing gun-battle at a military arsenal in Sofala on Monday. The government accused Renamo of launching the attack, a charge denied by the former rebel movement.

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