After bungling in Angola, the United Nations has adopted a more cautions approach towards the Mozambique ceasefire which should ultimately lead to the first multi-party elections since the country won independence in 1975.
Mozambique and Angola share a lot in common. They were both Portuguese colonies. They were both granted independence at the same time but instead of enjoying the peace the people of those countries had fought for they both started bitter civil wars with UNITA spearheading the opposition in Angola and Renamo, which was founded by the then Rhodesia regime, taking a similar role in Mozambique.
Both Mozambique and Angola have rich resources which could pull the countries out of the doldrums to two of the richest countries in Southern Africa. Besides the rich resources Mozambique also has the cheapest routes to the sea for land-locked Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and to some extent, Botswana.
The United Nations is now trying to ensure a peaceful transition, because it is being accused of rushing things in Angola as it did not disarm the rival armies before the elections. This made it easy for the two parties to revert to civil war soon after Savimbi had learnt that he had been narrowly beaten in the presidential elections.
To ensure that the same does not happen in Mozambique the UN has requested Zimbabwean troops to remain in Mozambique until its peacekeeping forces are in place. Sources say the UN would like to ensure that all warring factions are disarmed before the ceasefire is put into effect.
It is very difficult to tell whether the UN will succeed in this because neither of two parties involved in the ceasefire fully trusts the other.
Even in the case of Zimbabwe where the two major liberation movements were disarmed by the peacekeeping forces, arms were cached in preparation for losing the elections.
This was later to lead to faction fighting in Entumbane and, later on, the sacking of ZAPU from the unity government for allegedly caching arms. Recent revelations have, however, indicated that South African agents were involved in fomenting dissent between the former ZAPU and ZANU.