150 people arrested following riots in Mozambique

In the wake of riots last week over soaring bread prices in which 10 people were killed, almost 150 people have been arrested in Mozambique according to  the country’s state-run radio. In the statement, police spokesman Joaquim Selemane as said police were attempting to identify the ringleaders of the protests, which were organized by cell phone text messages and which left hundreds of people injured. The spokesman told the broadcaster that 142 people were arrested for burning tyres and property destruction plus six suspected of sending text messages to incite the protests.

Anger was sparked by a 30 percent rise in the price of bread, but the government has said it is helpless in the face of soaring global wheat prices. The problem of drought and fires in Russia, which had been the world’s No. 3 wheat exporter, and a decision by the Russian government to extend a grain export ban until late 2011, have helped to boost benchmark U.S. wheat prices by more than 25 percent this year.

According to some analysts, food prices will further stoke inflation which surged to more than 14 percent in June from decade lows last year of close to three percent but they expect investor appetite to remain undiminished for the country’s natural resources. Maputo, the country’s capital, was rocked last week by the riots. Protests also erupted in the central town of Chimoio and Matola, an industrial suburb of the capital.

Political parties and groups have criticised the government, saying it failed to gauge the anger that would be unleashed by the 30 percent bread price rise and increases in water and electricity tariffs. Income disparities are glaring and poverty remains gut wrenching in Mozambique But the country has been fortunate to have at its helm, a government that has allowed democracy to prevail.

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