Mozambique peace talks resume as violence spreads

2016-08-09 10:10
President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi (File, Gianluigi Guercia, AFP).

President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi (File, Gianluigi Guercia, AFP).

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Maputo - Mozambique's government and main opposition party Renamo renewed peace talks on Monday in the capital Maputo, even as skirmishes spread in the north.

Renamo, which waged a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, has refused to accept the results of 2014 elections when it was beaten once more by the Frelimo party, in power since independence 40 years ago.

A commission was initially appointed in May to set up a face-to-face encounter between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

But both parties agreed in June to have international mediators - including the European Union, the Catholic Church and South Africa - attend peace talks instead, with the leaders set to meet only once all issues were settled.

"We have just emerged from a very successful meeting," former president of Botswana and co-chair of the mediators' group Quett Masire said on Monday evening.

Among the major issues Renamo wants resolved is the failure to include former rebel fighters in the regular army and police, a long-standing sticking point that harks back to the original 1992 peace agreement.

But even as negotiators laid the groundwork for peace on Monday, alleged Renamo gunmen attacked a northern village, burning down official buildings and destroying a health centre, state broadcaster Radio Mocambique reported.

"We haven't ceased fire, the military conflict continues," Dhlakama said in an interview published on Monday by independent daily O Pais.

Dhlakama has been in hiding since October 2015 after he escaped two attacks against his convoy.

He claims government troops are continuously attacking his stronghold in central Gorongosa in an attempt to lure him out or kill him.

The clashes have intensified in recent months following Dhlakama's declaration in December that he would take power in six of the country's 11 provinces which he claims he won in the 2014 elections.

Read more on:    mozambique

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