A few years after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, the impoverished country was plunged into a long and debilitating civil war between the Government and the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), supported by South Africa's apartheid regime. On 4 October 1992, after two years of negotiations in Rome, the two parties signed a General Peace Agreement. As part of the Agreement, the Security Council established the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) to monitor and support a ceasefire, the demobilization of forces and the holding of national elections.

In early 1993, some 6,500 troops and military observers, led by the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Mr. Aldo Ajello, were deployed. To guarantee the implementation of the Agreement and settle disputes, a Supervisory and Monitoring Commission was established. It was chaired by the United Nations, and composed of the Government, RENAMO, Italy (mediator State), France, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States (observer States at the Rome Talks), and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

In addition to verifying the implementation of the military aspects of the Peace Agreement and overseeing the electoral process, ONUMOZ launched a humanitarian assistance programme to help the 3.7 million people displaced by war to resettle in the communities. For its part, UNHCR started in 1993 the repatriation of 1.3 million refugees. At that time, the three-year operation was the biggest ever undertaken by UNHCR in Africa. By mid-1994, some 75 per cent of the people internally displaced had been resettled and most refugees had returned to Mozambique.

Demobilization, started in 1994, eventually involved more than 76,000 soldiers from both sides, 10,000 of which ONUMOZ helped integrate into the new national army. ONUMOZ also recovered about 155,000 weapons.

The country's first multiparty elections were held in October 1994, monitored by additional 2,300 civilian international observers, including some 900 from the United Nations. The Government's party, FRELIMO, won the parliamentary and presidential elections. The new Parliament and President were inaugurated on 8 and 9 December 1994, respectively. Its task successfully fulfilled, the mandate of ONUMOZ formally came to an end at midnight on 9 December. However, ONUMOZ continued to carry out residual functions until the Mission was fully liquidated at the end of January 1995.


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