From Mduduzi Mathuthu in MAPUTO, Mozambique
FILIPE Nyusi was sworn in as Mozambique’s President yesterday, vowing to unite his country to promote peace and accelerate economic development. Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko joined several regional leaders to witness Nyusi, voted in on October 15 last year, assume the reins from President Armando Guebuza, who stood down after serving his constitutional two terms.
Nyusi’s inauguration as the fourth President of Mozambique extended the ruling Frelimo party’s nearly 40-year hold on power since the southern African nation won independence from Portugal in 1975.
The departing Guebuza said he was “certain that Nyusi will ensure continuity and work even faster towards materialisation of our collective dream of 25 June 1962 — the dream of a prosperous Mozambique, always united, in peace and with ever growing prestige in the concert of nations.”
Nyusi — whose election win was dismissed as a fraud by the opposition Renamo, whose leader Afonso Dhlakama boycotted yesterday’s event — took up Guebuza’s theme, vowing to follow policies of “inclusion” and “dialogue”.
He said his will be “a participatory government”, characterised by “permanent and genuine dialogue”. No Mozambicans would be excluded from this dialogue, he pledged in apparent reference to Dhlakama, whose party won 89 seats to Frelimo’s 144 in parliament.
In the presidential ballot, Nyusi won with 56 percent of the vote, a marked drop from the 75 percent scored by Guebuza in 2009. Dhlakama, capitalising, polled 37 percent of the vote, more than double his 16 percent from the previous election.
“This takeover of power is illegal,” Dhlakama was quoted by Lusa news agency as saying ahead of the ceremony, which was attended by President Anibal Cavaco Silva of former colonial power, Portugal.
Dhlakama has threatened to form a parallel government in parts of the gas-rich country.
Nyusi (55) took the oath of office before symbolically exchanging seats with Guebuza. He is an engineer by profession and a former defence minister.
He pledged “to open constructive dialogue with all political forces and civil society organisations to promote peace” in a country that was ravaged by a brutal 16-year civil war that ended in 1992.
“I represent a new generation, a generation that inherits huge success and exciting challenges,” he rallied the thousands who watched his swearing in.
“We need to build consensus, we need to share, without any fear, information about the major decisions that will be taken by my government.
“Building a society of inclusion requires more than speeches and declarations of intent”, Nyusi continued. “I shall work to make more visible and more real the inclusion that we all talk about and greatly desire.”
He hinted that he may reduce the size of the government so that it had “the most simple structure possible”, but added: “It will be functional and focused on solving the concrete problems of citizens’ day-to-day lives.”
Among the dignitaries attending the inauguration ceremony were South African President Jacob Zuma, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy, Justice Minister Wu Aiying, was also present.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki and the former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda also attended.
Vice President Mphoko, who is accompanied by his wife, Laurinda, and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, leaves Mozambique today for Botswana.
He will attend Saturday’s burial of that country’s former vice president Mompati Sebogodi Merafhe, who died last Wednesday.