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Historical Introduction

Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, fought a low-key war of liberation since 1964 and after Portugal's so-called Carnation Revolution of 1974 proclaimed independence on 25. June 1975. The same year, representatives of Portugal and Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) formed a transitional government that embraced the Socialist path of Soviet Union, Cuba, Algeria and China. To oppose FRELIMO and single-party dictatorship, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) was formed in 1976 with South African support. The ensuing civil war claimed some 600 000 lives. By 1990, one million people had been killed in violence by both sides. FRELIMO swore allegiance to the Bolshevik legacy in 1977 and launched large-scale agricultural collectivization. By the 1980s, however, the FRELIMO regime faced increasing economic and political trouble. The relocation of several million people into collective farms and other Communist experiments contributed to food shortages that caused 300-600 000 Mozambicans to starve to death. According to Human Rights Watch, hunger caused more deaths in Mozambique during 1975-1985 than the country's armed conflict. Hundreds of thousands fled from hunger and repressions. Existing research, although limited, confirms the claims by Human Rights Watch that both parties of the civil war were involved in numerous crimes against civilians. Mozambique started economic reforms in 1986 and FRELIMO gave up Marxism; UN peacekeepers arrived in the country in 1993 and the civil war ended in 1994. In the 2004 general elections, FRELIMO regained control of the parliament and presidency.