Mozambique opposition spokesman arrested at peace talks

By Drum Digital
07 July 2014

Police arrested a senior member of Mozambique's opposition party Renamo as he left peace talks at the president's office.

Police arrested a senior member of Mozambique's opposition party Renamo as he left peace talks at the president's office Monday, a party official said.

Renamo's spokesman Antonio Muchunga had been invited to the presidency as a member of a state council charged with resolving escalating political and military tensions between the party and the government.

"To our surprise our colleague Antonio Pedro Muchunga was arrested minutes after the end of the council of state meeting inside the grounds of the presidency," said Manuel Lole, a fellow Renamo member of the council.

Muchunga was held as he tried to leave the meeting, where it had been decided to remove the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as a member of the council, Lole said.

Muchunga is one of three Renamo members nominated to the 18-member advisory council, which meets to discuss issues of national importance.

The third Renamo member is party leader Afonso Dhlakama, a former rebel chieftain, who is holed up in the central Gorongosa mountains after returning to the bush in 2012 and embarking on a low-level insurgency against the Frelimo government.

Instead of focusing on the "political and military crisis", Lole said, the state council spent the meeting debating a request from the attorney general for Muchunga's immunity to be removed so that he could be prosecuted over allegations he had incited violence in his capacity as Dhlakama's spokesperson.

The president's office made no mention of Muchunga's arrest when reporting back to the press about the meeting.

"Members called on Renamo to stop hostilities that have caused grief and suffering for Mozambicans...and to participate in the democratic game in the country," presidency spokesman Edson Macuacua said.

Two decades after signing a peace accord to end a bitter civil war, Dhlakama has threatened to divide the country again unless the government agrees to a list of demands including equal representation for Renamo in the armed forces and police.

Muchunga is the second Renamo spokesperson to be arrested in the past 18 months.

Last June security spokesman Jeronimo Malagueta was detained after announcing Renamo would carry out a series of attacks on the national highway. He was released without charge ten months later.

-SAPA

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