Maputo - Riot police and soldiers deployed at Mozambique's
main government hospital Monday amid high tension following the arrest
overnight of the leader of a week-old strike by the country's medics.
Around a dozen helmeted police patrolled the parking lot of
Central Hospital in the capital Maputo while unarmed soldiers kept a watchful
eye in the hospital's corridors as the strike by doctors, nurses and support
staff entered its second week.
On Sunday night police arrested the leader of the Mozambican
Medical Association, Jorge Arroz, holding him for four hours, local media
Authorities said police took him in for questioning and
denied local media reports that he had been charged with sedition.
He was arrested during a meeting with his striking
colleagues. Police believed some of their plans "were damaging to human
rights," the head of operations in the police force, Antonio Pelembe, told
Both the government and the striking medics accuse each
other of using intimidatory tactics. The government says strikers have been
locking clinics and hospitals to prevent anyone entering, while the strikers
say their members have been the victims of "physical and psychological
Despite the wage dispute by doctors, nurses, ambulance
staff, cleaners and laboratory staff, the health ministry claims to have the
situation under control.
Medical workers, many of whom earn under $600 a month, want
their salaries doubled.
They are dissatisfied with a 15% - raise they received last
month following a strike in January.
There were no doctors in sight at the emergency rooms of the
Maputo Central Hospital on Monday morning.
"We have been waiting here for three hours. They don't
seem to have emergency doctors. We don't know whether to stay or leave,"
Adelina Taimo, who had brought in an injured friend, told AFP.
Mozambican authorities have had to call in military and
foreign doctors and volunteers from the international Red Cross, as well as
drafting in nursing students to fill in the gaps. Several retired nurses told
AFP they had agreed to come back to work to help out.