Filipe Nyusi was sworn in as Mozambique’s new president on Thursday, pledging to prioritize peace as a precondition of economic development.
Nyusi, a former defense minister, won the post in Oct. 15 elections that saw the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, retain its parliamentary majority. While the election results were confirmed by the country’s Constitutional Council on Dec. 29, they are still being disputed by the Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, which finished second.
Nyusi, who was inaugurated at a ceremony in central Maputo, succeeds Armando Guebuza, who stepped down after serving the maximum two five-year terms in office.
On Jan. 10, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama said he planned to establish an autonomous region in areas of central and northern Mozambique, where he polled higher than Nyusi, and serve as its president. Talks between the government and Renamo over the implementation of a peace deal agreed to last September, including disarming Renamo’s soldiers, remain deadlocked. The peace deal allowed Renamo to take part in the elections.
Mozambique’s new parliament was sworn in on Jan. 12. Renamo deputies boycotted the ceremony to protest what they deemed was electoral fraud that handed victory to Frelimo.
Nyusi also has to address challenges posed by heavy rain and flooding in the center of the country that has claimed a number of lives and left thousands homeless. The four northernmost provinces –- Zambezia, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado — have been cut off from the national electricity grid, and the main north-south highway was severed after a bridge was washed away in Zambezia.