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(Resistencia Nacional Moçambicana, Mozambique National Resistance)

A right-wing resistance movement against the rule of FRELIMO in Mozambique, established from 1975. It functioned originally with the help of the intelligence services of the Rhodesian Smith government, which tried to destabilize the FRELIMO regime because of its support for ZANU. Increasingly, it derived its main support from South Africa, which objected to FRELIMO's support for communism, the ANC and the Namibian independence movement, SWAPO. Despite its vast inferiority in numbers to FRELIMO's forces, it continued extensive guerrilla attacks, exerting ferocious brutality on some of the civilian population. By 1989, it had destroyed three-quarters of the country's educational facilities, as well as countless hospitals. It is estimated that almost 50 per cent of all children in Mozambique in 1975–89 died directly or indirectly because of the war. RENAMO is estimated to have killed over one million civilians, while 20 per cent of the population became refugees.

 The end of the South African apartheid regime stopped its vital source of support, and forced RENAMO to negotiate a peaceful compromise with FRELIMO leader Chissano. It participated in the multi-party elections of 1994, when it gained 112 out of 250 parliamentary seats. Its main electoral base was in central Mozambique, which had been the heartland of their military operations. Despite initial protests, it accepted the outcome of the elections. RENAMO boycotted parliament from 1999, when it suffered another narrow election defeat at the hads of FRELIMO. It stopped short, however, of reverting back to armed conflict, and it contested the elections of 2004.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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