Mozambique's Renamo boycotts parliament and threatens secession

Mozambican Resistance Movement (RENAMO) presidential candidate Afonso Dhlakama is threatening to create a parallel government in the central and gas-rich northern regions of the country (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)
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Maputo (AFP) - Mozambique's main opposition party Renamo on Monday boycotted the opening of parliament in protest at last October's election results as its leader threatened to create a parallel government.

Afonso Dhlakama has refused to accept the results of the elections won by the ruling Frelimo, claiming widespread irregularities and fraud.

He is threatening to create a parallel government in the central and gas-rich northern regions of the country.

"Renamo will form provincial governments in six provinces (out of 11), and I, Afonso Dhlakama, will become the president of central and northern Mozambique," Dhlakama said during a weekend meeting in the central Beira province.

Once backed by neighbouring South Africa's apartheid government, anti-communist Renamo -- the Mozambican National Resistance -- waged a 16-year war against Frelimo before signing a peace deal in 1992. It ended a recently renewed low-level insurgency just weeks ahead of the election.

Frelimo (the Mozambique Liberation Front), in power since independence from Portugal in 1975, has won all the previous elections and has retained the majority in the latest vote taking 144 out of 250 seats in the National Assembly.

All of Renamo's 89 lawmakers stayed away from the inauguration of the parliament in Maputo, an AFP reporter witnessed.

The party has repeatedly been demanding the creation of a transitional government since the elections took place.

Dhlakama had come second in the national elections with 37 percent of the vote, behind Frelimo's Filipe Nyusi who took the presidency with a 57 percent victory.

Outgoing President Armando Guebuza last month signed a law that would grant the former rebel commander Dhlakama a special status.

But Dhlakama rejected the law which would have created a British-style leader of the opposition, complete with his own official residence, staff and office, as well as the right to set his own salary.

Over $2 million (1.7 million euros) has been set aside for the new post in the 2015 budget, according to the finance ministry.

The elections took place against a backdrop of rising discontent, with rapid economic growth fuelled by coal and gas deposits yet to benefit the majority of the population.

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