3 November 1986
Following almost 400 years of Portuguese presence, Mozambique became an independent state in 1975. A civil war broke out between two factions FRELIMO, backed by the Soviet Union and RENAMO, supported by United States and apartheid South Africa. At this time, the African National Congress(ANC) was granted access to military bases in Mozambique in support of its liberation struggle. In 1984, the Nkomati Accord was signed, in which Mozambique agreed to expel the ANC from its territory, in exchange for South Africa's withdrawal of support from RENAMO. Samora Machel was the president of Mozambique at the time and following a number of successive meetings with the South African government. Machel was killed in a plane crash in 1986. As the plane was travelling over South Africa at the time of the accident, it has been suspected that the apartheid government was responsible for Machel's death. He was succeeded as president by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joaquim Chissano, on 3 November 1986. By 1990, direct talks were held between FRELIMO and RENAMO and by 1994; Chissano had won Mozambique's first multi-party elections. He was re-elected in 1999, but stepped down in 2005. Under his leadership, the Mozambican economy was revived and the country enjoyed relative political stability. It was Chissano who paved the way for Mozambique to become a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1995. This could be seen as making a clean break with FRELIMO’s backer during the liberations struggle, the Soviet Union. On his retirement, Chissano served as part of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General (UN) to Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan. In 2007, he won the Mo Ibrahim Prize for achievement in African Leadership. A month later, however, his eldest son, Nyimpine Chissano, having been implicated in two high profile murders, was found dead. It is suspected that one of the murders Nyimpine was implicated in was carried out by a member of Joaquim Chissano's presidential guard, raising questions as to whether the former president of Mozambique was involved in these alleged murders.