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Joaquim Alberto Chissano

In office
November 6, 1986 – February 2, 2005
Prime Minister Mário da Graça Machungo
Pascoal Mocumbi
Luisa Diogo
Preceded by Samora Machel
Succeeded by Armando Guebuza

Born October 22, 1939 (1939-10-22) (age 70)
Gaza Province
Political party FRELIMO
Spouse(s) Marcelina Rafael Chissano
Religion Roman Catholic

Joaquim Alberto Chissano (born 22 October 1939) served as the second President of Mozambique for nineteen years from 6 November 1986 until 2 February 2005. Since stepping down as president, Chissano has become an elder statesman and is called upon by international bodies, such as the United Nations, to be an envoy or negotiator. He currently chairs the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.[1]


Early life

Joaquim Chissano was born in the remote village of Malehice, Chibuto district, Gaza Province of the Portuguese colony of Mozambique (then called Portuguese East Africa). Chissano was the first black student to attend the only high school in the colony, Liceu Salazar in Lourenço Marques (present day Maputo), where he became a member and subsequently the leader of the Mozambican "African Secondary School Students' Organisation" (NESAM). After leaving secondary school, he went to Portugal to study medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon. Because of Chissano's political activism, his studies came to an end, and he fled to Tanzania via France.

Freedom fighter

Joaquim Chissano represented Frelimo, the Mozambique independence movement, in Paris during the 1960s. He was known there as a soft-spoken diplomat who worked to reconcile radical and moderate Marxist factions of the Frelimo party.

He went on to fight in the Mozambican War of Independence against the Portuguese colonial government and the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo, by then engaged in a multi-front colonial war. By the time that Mozambique finally achieved its independence in 1975 as a result of the liberation struggle and the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, Chissano had risen to the rank of major-general.

The new president of Mozambique, Samora Machel, appointed him foreign minister where he served for the next eleven years. In 1974, he participated in the Lusaka talks which paved the way for the independence of Mozambique, and subsequently became Prime Minister of the Transitional Government.


Joaquim Chissano became president in 1986 when Samora Machel's presidential aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain in South Africa.[2]

After the Mozambican Civil War which saw the Renamo rebels become a regular political party, he won multi-party elections in 1994 and again in 1999. In 1999, he defeated the former rebel leader, Afonso Dhlakama, by 52.3% to 47.7%. Chissano served as Chairperson of the African Union from July 2003 to July 2004.

Chissano chose not to run for a third term in the elections of 2004, although the constitution would have allowed him to do so. Frelimo instead selected Armando Guebuza as its candidate, who defeated Dhlakama by an even bigger margin of votes.

Chissano left office at the end of his term in February 2005.

Transcendental Meditation

In 1992, Joaquim Chissano learnt the Transcendental Meditation technique. Two years later, he ordered all military and police recruits to learn and practice the technique, and 16,000 soldiers and 30,000 civilians were taught the more advanced technique of Yogic Flying. Chissano said: "First I started the practice of transcendental meditation myself, then introduced the practice to my close family, my cabinet of ministers, my government officers and my military. The result has been political peace and balance in nature in my country."[3]


On 4 December 2006, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Chissano the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, in an effort to bring about a comprehensive political solution to the ongoing conflict with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Chissano was to closely liaise with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (then led by Eliane Duthoit), and with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had indicted LRA leader Joseph Kony and four other senior members of the LRA.

At a ceremony in London on 22 October 2007, Chissano's 68th birthday, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that he had been awarded the inaugural $5 million Prize for Achievement in African Leadership awarded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and given to a former African leader who has shown good governance.[4] Intended to be awarded annually by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the prize of five million dollars is spread over the course of ten years, plus $200,000 per annum subsequently.[5]

Member of the Club of Madrid. [6]


  1. ^ BBC News profile of Joaquim Chissano.
  2. ^ Mozambican Tupolev Tu-134 air disaster
  3. ^ [1]Meditation is path to peace, Mozambique leader says. The Guardian 2001.09.22
  4. ^ Joaquim Chissano wins the largest prize in the world
  5. ^ "Mozambique ex-leader wins prize". BBC News. 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-10-22.  
  6. ^ (English) [ The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government. ]

See also

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Samora Machel
President of Mozambique
Succeeded by
Armando Guebuza
Preceded by
Thabo Mbeki
Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Olusegun Obasanjo
Preceded by
New post
Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for LRA-affected areas
2007–present day
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
New award
Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
Succeeded by
Festus Mogae


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