Mozambique passes amnesty law for opposition leader ahead of vote

MAPUTO Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:40am EDT

Mozambique's opposition RENAMO Presidential candidate Afonso Dhlakama shows an ink dyed finger after voting in the country's Presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial Elections in Maputo October 28, 2009.   REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg

Mozambique's opposition RENAMO Presidential candidate Afonso Dhlakama shows an ink dyed finger after voting in the country's Presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial Elections in Maputo October 28, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Grant Lee Neuenburg

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MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique's parliament has approved an amnesty law that will allow opposition Renamo party leader Afonso Dhlakama to leave his hideaway in the bush, sign a peace accord with President Armando Guebuza and run in an Oct. 15 election, lawmakers said.

The law approved late on Tuesday also applied to Dhlakama's supporters, who had clashed with the government army since 2012. The violence raised fears for stability in the southern African nation which is developing big coal and offshore gas deposits.

The amnesty is part of a peace deal between Renamo and Guebuza's ruling Frelimo party, old foes in a 1975-1992 civil war, and means Dhlakama will not face prosecution or arrest for the attacks carried out by his followers over the last year.

Dhlakama, whose former rebel movement has been repeatedly defeated by Frelimo in elections since the end of the war, has lived in a bush base in central Sofala province for more than a year to escape what he says is government persecution.

He is now expected to travel to the capital Maputo to sign a formal peace accord with Guebuza ahead of the Oct. 15 election, in which he has registered as Renamo's presidential candidate.

The constitution bars Guebuza from running for a third term and former Defense Minister Filipe Nyusi will run as the Frelimo candidate.

Whoever wins the Oct. 15 vote is expected to help bring to fruition major coal and offshore natural gas investment projects that have the potential to bring billions of dollars to a nation that was in ruins two decades ago.

Mozambique's resource-led boom involves investors including Brazil's Vale, London-listed Rio Tinto, Italy's Eni and U.S. oil firm Anadarko.

(Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by David Dolan)

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