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Looming police strike threatens disaster

A nationwide police strike puts security in the north at risk, as well as the government's grip on power

Today’s front pages in Maputo. Photo credit: Faizal Chauque / Zitamar News

Good afternoon. It is no exaggeration to say that the Mozambican government is facing an existential threat to its survival in the form of a possible strike by police officers, which would be unprecedented in the country’s history.

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Police officers have been suffering delays of 2-3 months in salary payments, a situation which will inevitably lead to an increase in already common police corruption. But on Friday, officers’ discontent led to suggestions that police might actually strike.

The implications of a nationwide police strike go beyond everyday law and order, important though that is. Through the Rapid Intervention Unit, or UIR, the police are now responsible for much of the counter-insurgency operations against the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado province. Despite businesses returning to work in some parts of the province, the insurgents are still able to launch attacks and kill troops. If a strike took place and the UIR took part, the insurgents — who have spread murder and panic among Cabo Delgado’s civilian population over the past six years  — would be given a freer hand.

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