Ending the armed conflict in Mozambique


Negotiations hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome concluded with the signing of the General Peace Agreement, which ended the armed conflict in Mozambique after three decades of near-continuous war.

Mozambique emerged from the Portuguese empire in 1975 after a decade of armed conflict between colonial forces and the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO). Following the Carnation Revolution, Portuguese forces were immediately withdrawn, and FRELIMO was formally given control of Mozambique.1 The Soviet Union and East Germany provided initial diplomatic and military support to the new administration, which was also later supported by Zimbabwe. In 1977, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) launched an insurgency against newly established and FRELIMO-led Government of Mozambique with the support of the governments of neighbouring Rhodesia and, from 1980, South Africa. With external backers providing support to both sides, the conflict raged for over a decade without a decisive outcome.2 A change of FRELIMO leadership in 1986 sparked renewed efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and two years later South Africa withdrew its support for RENAMO, providing some hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.3

Although the war appeared to be nearing its end, it proved difficult to find an intermediary to host negotiations which was satisfactory to both parties. FRELIMO distrusted the governments of the USA, South Africa, Kenya, the UK, and Malawi, while RENAMO refused to deal with the Zimbabwean administration, which had deployed thousands of troops in support of FRELIMO and the Mozambican military.4 The first organised effort to end the war was led by church leaders in Mozambique, who utilised funds provided by the World Council of Churches to engage in Track II Diplomacy between FRELIMO and RENAMO representatives in Kenya and the US.5 These efforts created the conditions for dialogue to take place and, in 1989, talks jointly mediated by the governments of Kenya and Zimbabwe laid the groundwork for further dialogue, despite both parties refusing to meet face to face.6 The following year, FRELIMO and RENAMO attended negotiations hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome and, in December 1990, a partial ceasefire was reached.7 A devastating drought in 1991-1992 severely impacted RENAMO’s ability to sustain the war and threatened the Mozambican people with famine, catalysing the peace process.8 After 27 months of negotiations mediated by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the parties signed the General Peace Agreement in Rome on 4 October 1992, formally ending the war which had cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and bringing peace to a country torn apart by three decades of armed conflict.9

1 The Lusaka Agreement, 1974. Available at: https://www.africaportal.org/publications/frelimo-and-the-transitional-government-of-mozambique-the-lusaka-agreement/ (Accessed 20/11/2020)

2 UCDP. Government of Mozambique – Renamo. (UCDP, 2020) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/statebased/722 (Accessed 20/11/2020)

3 Martin Rupiya. “Historical Context: War and Peace in Mozambique.” in Jeremy Armon, Dylan Hendrickson, & Alex Vines, eds. The Mozambican Peace Process in Perspective. (London: Conciliation Resources, 1998) p.14

4 Colin Darch. A Success Story Gone Wrong? The Mozambican Conflict and the Peace Process in Historical Perspective. (Maputo: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Mozambique, 2018) p.15

5 Dínis S. Sengulane and Jaime Pedro Gonçalves. “A Calling for Peace: Christian Leaders and the Quest for Reconciliation in Mozambique.” in Jeremy Armon, Dylan Hendrickson, & Alex Vines, eds. The Mozambican Peace Process in Perspective. (London: Conciliation Resources, 1998) p.29

6 Darch. A Success Story Gone Wrong? p.15

7 Rupiya. “Historical Context.” p.15

8 Jane Perlez. “Southern Africa Hit By Its Worst Drought of the 20th Century.” The New York Times. (1992) Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/07/world/southern-africa-hit-by-its-worst-drought-of-the-20th-century.html (Accessed 23/11/2020)

9 General Peace Agreement for Mozambique, 1992. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/mozambique-general-peace-agreement92 (Accessed 23/11/2020)

Start Year


End Year




UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict with foreign involvement

Type of Initiative

Mediation of a peace agreement

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Community of Sant




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