reversal of Mozambique’s fortunes | Council on Foreign Relations

Just a year ago, the news from Mozambique was rather gloomy. The security crisis in the northern region of Cabo Delgado has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, created a humanitarian crisis, raised regional concern about the potential for extremists to export insecurity to neighboring Mozambique, and even led the French oil giant Total to declare force majeure on its massive investment in natural gas in the country. The long tail of the ‘hidden loans’ corruption scandal, in which top officials formed state-owned companies that borrowed more than $2 billion on the books in 2013 and 2014, continued to cast a cloud over the economy. and investor confidence. . Mozambique was in danger.

The country had, and still has, enormous security, humanitarian and economic needs. But today, the news from Mozambique is much more positive and the country has significant international weight. The reshaping of the global energy economy resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made Mozambique’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) reserves more attractive than ever. Military assistance from Rwanda, together with the intervention of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reversed the insurgents’ momentum in the north. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have recommitted to supporting the economy. Mozambique was even elected to a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the first time, making Maputo a go-to destination for diplomats seeking to build consensus and win allies in an unstable geopolitical environment.

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It’s worth watching if Mozambique – and its public and private sector suitors – are making the most of the moment. Recent attacks clearly show that the security crisis in the north has improved but not resolved. Beyond military dynamics, the political strategy to address the disenfranchisement, communal tensions and criminal networks that have created an environment conducive to radicalization remains hazy at best. Some governance reforms have paved the way for donors to reengage the state, but accountability is still elusive in many cases, and the connective tissue between the population and elite decision makers is weak. The 2019 national elections were marred by violence and irregularities, and in a recent poll, only 27% of citizens perceive a difference between the ruling party and the state itself. The national trial of those charged in the hidden loans scandal has concluded and a verdict is expected later this summer, but it is widely understood that some have avoided charges not because of their innocence, but rather because of their closeness with those closest to the current. power center of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) party. There is a real national and international opportunity to institute meaningful reforms that can put the country on a more stable path. But a short-term approach that prioritizes one-off deals and the consolidation of political power could squander that chance, setting the stage for further rounds of disruption and disorder.

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