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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 06:22 GMT

World: Africa

Queen's praise for Mozambique

The Queen and President Chissano shelter from the sun at Maputo airport

The Queen has praised Mozambique's move from civil war to peace at a state banquet in the capital Maputo before flying home to Britain.

She said the country was an example to other African states and strife-torn nations elsewhere in the world.

"The recognition by all parties that it was only through peace that there could be any prospect for resolving differences, and Mozambique's commitment to reconciliation and democracy, offer a valuable lesson to countries in Africa and elsewhere still riven by conflict," she said.

[ image: President Chissano: Campaigning for re-election]
President Chissano: Campaigning for re-election
"Mozambique is now one of Africa's success stories.

"It has been able to emerge from the fires of internal conflict through solidarity with its neighbours, with other states across this great continent of Africa, and with its new found Commonwealth friends around the world."

On her last, and shortest stop of the tour, the Queen was greeted by a political rally at the country's International Airport.

As she and the Duke of Edinburgh stepped from their plane, they were cheered by a 1,000-strong crowd wearing Frelimo T-shirts and waving "vote Joaquim Chissano" posters.

Frelimo is Mozambique's ruling party, and Chissano its president. He is currently campaigning for re-election in three weeks' time.

The crowd played cowhide drums and xylophones, and danced and sang as the Queen walked onto the tarmac. She was also greeted by a 21-gun salute.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell: "Mozambique is the only member never to be ruled by Britain"
"She is a good person and she helps my country. I'm happy to see her," said Felicidade Magaic, one of the crowd at the airport.

The Queen was met by President Chissano, and in sweltering midday heat the two inspected a guard of honor and shook hands with a line of dignitaries.

The British monarch, who wore a turquoise and blue silk floral print dress and matching hat, was then driven from the airport in a white Rolls-Royce.

At 10 hours 40 minutes, the Mozambique stop was the shortest on the Queen's three-nation African tour, during which she also visited Ghana and South Africa, where she opened the Commonwealth summit in Durban.

After the official welcome, the Queen opened a week-long British trade exhibition and held separate meetings with President Chissano and opposition leader Alphonso Dhalakama.

The independent republic joined the Commonwealth four years ago, despite never having been under British rule.

It was the Queen's first state visit to the former Portuguese colony, which is recovering from 16 years of bloody civil war.

British High Commission spokesman Andrew Bowes said the visit was a gesture of support for the poverty-stricken, but fast-growing, democracy.

"It is a very good opportunity for the United Kingdom to demonstrate to Mozambique that we have a lot of faith in her potential," he said.

BBC correspondents in Africa say the visit is widely seen as a belated signal of appreciation for the country's efforts to help bring democracy to its neighbours, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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