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700 protest over war pensions in Mozambique
by Staff Writers
Maputo (AFP) Oct 26, 2011

More than 700 Mozambican civil war veterans and their families gathered in the country's capital Maputo on Wednesday during a second day of protests to demand pensions from the government.

The group of veterans, widows, children, and siblings began a camp outside the prime minister's office on Tuesday, singing revolutionary songs and brandishing placards.

"We want the government to pay us a pension of 12,500 meticals ($470, 340 euros) per month for each demobilized war veteran, as well as the integration of former militiamen and their widows in the scheme," the leader of one of the veterans' associations, Herminio dos Santos, told AFP Wednesday.

"We don't want dialogue with the ministry (of war veterans), we want direct talks with the president or the prime minister."

Dozens of police officers armed with AK47 rifles and riot gear watched over the protest as nervous authorities fear an outbreak of riots after unrest in September last year left 14 people dead.

None of the 70,000 fighters from the 16-year civil war between the Frelimo government forces and Renamo rebel group currently receive pensions, while veterans from the country's liberation war against colonial power Portugal do get money from the state.

About 100,000 people were killed and four million others displaced during the conflict which ended in 1992.

A new law pledges payment to civil war veterans, but the value has not been set.

War veterans ministry spokesman Horacio Massangela, told state television TVM that the government was open to discussing demands that could be accommodated under the statute.

Authorities will meet with the protesters next Wednesday.

Mozambique would have to pay 840 million meticals every month to meet the veterans' needs. The country spends 10 billion meticals a year on war pensions already.

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