President Guebuza reaches out to Dhlakama
Maputo – Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza says Renamo leader Afosno Dhlakama is avoiding a meeting with him, thus stalling efforts to diffuse simmering hostilities.
Dhlakama quit Maputo late last year and decamped to the bush, threatening to re-start a civil war that he executed from 1975 to 1992.
That war left more than a million people dead, and already several people have died at the hands of alleged Renamo fighters in recent months.
The government has been trying to talk to Renamo but little headway has been made. This has prompted the Defence Minister of neighbouring Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to call on SADC to act on the issue before Renamo once again destablises the region.
At a ceremony to mark 38 years since Mozambique won a war of liberation against the colonial Portuguese regime, President Guebuza said: “The leader of Renamo avoids me, but in my view the only way to solve our differences is through dialogue.”
The seventh round of negotiations last week between Renamo and the government failed to break the deadlock. Renamo wants to negotiate changes to the electoral process and then have the agreed document submitted jointly to Parliament, with both Frelimo and Renamo instructing their MPs to vote in favour.
The government team, headed by Frelimo Political Commission member Jose Pacheco, says Renamo must submit its proposals directly to Parliament.
Renamo says when it has tried to do so in the past, the Frelimo Parliamentary majority simply votes them down.
The government has indicated it cannot negotiate changes to the country’s laws outside of Parliament.
Mozambique will have local government elections this year and will then hold Parliamentary and Presidential polls in 2014.
Early on June 24, armed men struck a convoy of cars moving under military escort in restive central Mozambique just hours before talks were to resume.
Police said they arrested three Renamo members in the Muxungue area who they suspect are linked to the pre-dawn attack.
Since June 21, the military has been escorting vehicles along a 100km stretch vital highway that has been threatened by armed attacks.
And hopes of a political settlement are dim.
“We concluded another round of dialogue without reaching agreement on fundamental questions,” said Renamo's chief negotiator, Saimon Macuiane.
The government said Renamo's demands were not clear.
“Sincerely, we had difficulties understanding what Renamo wanted,” said government chief negotiator Pacheco.
However, he added: “The government will continue to dialogue up to the very last opportunity. The government will not abandon dialogue.”
Another round of talks is expected to start on July 1.
Since April, eleven soldiers and policemen, and five civilians have been killed in attacks blamed on Renamo.
Renamo waged its 1975-92 civil war with the backing of apartheid South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and West Germany.
While it is not believed that Renamo can this time around wage a widespread civil war, it has in its ranks an estimated 1 000 armed men who are capable of causing fatalities.
This has prompted Zimbabwe – which had to deploy its forces in the 1980s to fight Renamo – to urge SADC to take action before the situation deteriorates any further.