An alarming picture of political tension in Mozambique—a country whose government has been widely praised by the international donor community—has emerged in a report produced jointly by religious bodies and human rights campaigners.

The hard-hitting report, published last month, contains the first eyewitness accounts of last year's ''black November'' when street violence broke out in the north of the country and the police suffocated at least 88 people who had been rounded up for allegedly supporting the opposition.

The report is the result of unprecedented cooperation between the Christian Council of Mozambique, headed by Anglican bishop Alfonso Sengulane, and the country's Islamic Council, its bar association and the Mozambican Human Rights League. (About 30 percent of Mozambique's 19 million citizens are Christian and 10 percent are Muslim. About 60 percent follow traditional African beliefs.)

In 1992, Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony neighboring South Africa, ended 17 years of civil strife, fomented by the Cold War powers, between the Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana (Renamo) and the Frente de Libertacao de Mocambique (Frelimo). Frelimo has twice won elections and currently holds power.

But the most recent election, in 1999, was close-run and Renamo, which is strong in the impoverished north of the country, refused to accept the result.

President Joaquim Chissano is widely praised by donors for converting from Marxism to free-market policies which in 1999 made Mozambique the world's fastest growing economy. However, Renamo claims all the benefits are concentrated in the south of the country.

Renamo's leader, Afonso Dhlakama called for demonstrations in several provinces on November 8 last year. After the protests were ...

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