Renamo ceasefire for talks

2013-04-11 22:17
Fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement, Renamo, receive military training in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique. (Jinty Jackson, AFP)

Fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement, Renamo, receive military training in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique. (Jinty Jackson, AFP)

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Beira - Mozambique's government will meet a delegation from the ex-rebel group Renamo on Friday, an official said, amid threats of violence that echo the country's brutal civil war.

"The interior minister will receive a Renamo delegation at their request," a spokesperson  for the interior ministry, Pedro Cossa, told AFP.

The meeting follows deadly attacks last week between the former civil war foes in the central province of Sofala, where seven people were killed including police officers.

It is hoped the meeting can ease tensions between Renamo and the Frelimo-led government which escalated last year, after the group's leader Afonso Dhlakama set up camp in the Gorongosa mountains, retraining former guerrilla fighters.

Dhlakama is demanding the government renegotiate the terms of a 1992 peace accord.

Radio Mozambique reported that the purpose of the meeting was "to discuss the tense situation being experienced in the centre of the country".

But two meetings held by the parties in December last year yielded no results.

Earlier this month, Renamo members attacked a police command post in the town of Muxungue, just hours after the police raided the group's office with tear gas and arrested 15 leaders.

Tensions between the government and Renamo have peaked ahead of local elections set for November, which Renamo has threatened to disrupt.

Ceasefire

Dhlakama has said that he is open to a ceasefire as long as the government pulls back its security forces from the perimeter of his bush camp in the Gorongosa mountains and releases the 15 detained supporters.

Renamo claims one of its members was killed in the attack.

"They [the police] dispersed the meeting but with the intention to kill," Dhlakama said on Wednesday confirming he ordered the revenge attack," Renamo is tired of not responding," he said.

Dhlakama has declined a face to face meeting with President Armando Guebuza, claiming such encounters had in the past led to speculation that he was receiving pay-offs from the government.

The recent spike in violence is "deeply worrying not only for Mozambique but the whole sub-region," according to Ozias Tungwarara of AfriMAP, a regional governance project.

While the country has enjoyed substantial resource-fuelled growth since the end of the war, that growth has not improved lives thanks to corruption and nepotism, Tungwarara said.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that growth will hit 8.4% this year, pushed higher by increased coal exports.

Despite its confirmed energy reserves, the country is ranked by the UN as the world's fourth poorest, with most of the 23.4 million population living on one dollar or less a day.

"As Mozambique prepares for elections next year, it is imperative that reforms that ensure inclusive politics be put in place," said Tungwarara.

"While the narrative so far has been that Renamo has no capacity to execute a rebellion, any form of violent armed conflict is a sure deterrent to much needed investment and must be avoided at all costs."

Read more on:    frelimo  |  renamo  |  afonso dhlakama  |  mozambique  |  southern africa
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