By John Hughes, AIM London Bureau
London, 7 May (AIM) – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday attended the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in London.
His attendance is a significant indicator of the growing importance of Mozambique on the international stage, particularly in the context of its membership of the Commonwealth.
King Charles took over from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, following her death in September at the age of 96. She had reigned for seventy years and tradition dictates that an appropriate period of mourning be respected before a new monarch is crowned.
The coronation ceremony, which took place in Westminster Abbey, was witnessed by over two thousand citizens, and conducted by the senior bishop of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The most significant act in the ceremony, and the only part that was carried out in secret behind a screen, was the anointing of King Charles using Chrism oil that was consecrated in Jerusalem by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Patriarch Theophilos III, and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum. To make the oil, olives were pressed just outside Bethlehem and were then perfumed with sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin, amber, and orange blossom.
Following the two-hour ceremony, the King departed for Buckingham Palace in the Coronation Procession composed of 19 military bands, 250 horses, and 4,000 armed forces personnel. Following their arrival at the Palace, the Royal Family appeared on its balcony to wave to well-wishers and witness a flypast by the Royal Air Force.
President Nyusi arrived in the United Kingdom on 5 May and in the afternoon attended a special garden reception hosted by King Charles for Commonwealth Heads of State at the headquarters of the Commonwealth, Marlborough House.
The leaders of the Commonwealth also met to discuss the youth-focused future of the Commonwealth. In addition, President Nyusi took the opportunity to have a brief discussion with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland.
Speaking in London, President Nyusi noted that “my visit to the United Kingdom is within the framework of strengthening the ties of friendship, solidarity, and bilateral cooperation”.
The Commonwealth is made up of 56 countries with over 2.5 billion citizens. Mozambique joined in 1995, becoming the first country to be admitted to the Commonwealth that had never had a constitutional link with the United Kingdom. It was admitted due to its membership of the Southern African Development Community and the fact that it is surrounded by members of the Commonwealth.
In fact, links with Mozambique go back to 1974 when the Commonwealth assisted with negotiations between the representative of the Mozambican people – the liberation movement Frelimo – and the Portuguese authorities in the run-up to independence in 1975. This continued with the setting up of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation which raised resources to offset the huge cost to Mozambique of implementing international sanctions against the Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith.
As for relations between Mozambique and the United Kingdom, these have continued to grow at both the economic and political levels. Last year, the volume of trade between the two countries reached just under 280 million US dollars, mainly in renewable energy, agriculture, and mining.
Speaking at the Mozambique-UK Business Forum in Maputo on Thursday, the British High Commissioner to Mozambique, Helen Lewis, estimated that trade could grow to over 505 million dollars in the next few years.
At the political level, bilateral and multilateral relations continue to be strong and fruitful. In 2013, the British government proposed a High Level Prosperity Partnership with Mozambique on shared priorities in specific sectors, including the business environment, extractive industries, agriculture, education, energy, and infrastructure. However, the implementation of this bilateral work was cancelled due to changes in circumstances, primarily due to the repeated changing of British Prime Ministers (David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and now Rishi Sunak), the disruption caused by the British withdrawal from the European Union, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, on a more positive note, an Economic Partnership Agreement has been drawn up between the United Kingdom, Southern African Customs Union members and Mozambique and in late 2021 a trade and development committee met to implement the agreement.
President Nyusi completed his visit and left Britain on Saturday night.