Mozambique govt in deal with Renamo over governing of provinces

Maputo - The Mozambican government has agreed to make constitutional changes that will allow the opposition National Resistance Movement (Renamo) to govern in six provinces where it won majority votes during the 2014 elections.

Renamo had been pressing the government over the past two months to implement provincial devolution in central and northern provinces. 

In the past, the governing Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) had defeated proposals from Renamo in Parliament by using its majority, leading Renamo to take up arms.

A statement released on Wednesday by the two sides indicated government’s willingness to review the law and accommodate Renamo’s demands.

"There must be found legal mechanisms for the provisional appointment of governors of provinces coming from Renamo as soon possible... The preparation of the package has to be completed before the end of November 2016," Renamo spokesperson Jose Manteigas said, quoting a statement signed by members of both parties at the end of their talks.

According to the agreement, President Filipe Nyusi would "use his discretionary power to nominate some governors from Renamo".

European Union mediator Angelo Romano, in a tweet on Wednesday, branded the agreement as "very important for the peace of Mozambique".

Outstanding issues

Despite the initial agreement, there were still some outstanding issues such as a permanent ceasefire and the disarmament and integration of Renamo soldiers into the regular army and police.

Meanwhile, the tentative agreement signed in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, failed to bring to an end the clashes between government forces and Renamo militants.

At the time, the government and Renamo negotiators were signing the agreement on Wednesday, Renamo militants were still attacking civilians in rural areas of the southern Africa nation.  

The media reported that six people were killed on Friday in an attack by Renamo rebels who ambushed a vehicle, firing at it until it caught fire.

While the two sides had reached an agreement, the second largest opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) continued to insist that the viable solution to the problem was to change the law so that provincial governors were elected and not appointed. 

Since 2014 elections, tensions had been escalating in Mozambique, reminding the citizenry of the 16-year bloody civil war which ended in 1992.

Renamo had been refusing to accept the outcome of 2014 elections which saw the ruling Frelimo party being re-elected.

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