Guebuza says armed forces reacted in self-defence

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Tuesday blamed the country’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, for the recent clashes in and around the Renamo base of Satunjira, in Gorongosa district.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza

Speaking at a rally in the locality of Mucheve, on the second day of his “open and inclusive presidency” in the central province of Sofala, Guebuza said that Renamo attacks had forced the armed forces (FADM) to react in legitimate self-defence.

Guebuza told his audience “for some time now, when Renamo men cross paths with soldiers of the FPLM they open fire, obliging the troops to respond in their own defence”.

But despite the clashes, he insisted that dialogue between the government and Renamo will continue. The time, Guebuza added, “is not appropriate for enmities, because the loser in this is the Mozambican people”.

Despite Renamo provocations, he continued, and “because the government’s concern is the same as that of the people, namely to preserve peace, we shall continue to try to solve problems through dialogue”.

“This is not the time to ask who is right and who is wrong”, Guebuza said. “If somebody thinks they are right, let them bring their position to the dialogue table”.

Mucheve is in Chibabava district, which is the home district of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. It has generally been regarded as a Renamo stronghold, but at the Tuesday rally, those who spoke insisted “we want peace, because without it nobody can achieve their aspirations, or preserve what has already been achieved”.

One resident, Micas Moiane, declared there should be no more than one army in the country, in a clear reference to Renamo’s insistence on maintaining its own illegal militia, which it calls its “Presidential Guard”.

Guebuza’s spokesperson, Edson Macuacua, told reporters that the FADM “will give the most effective response possible” whenever it was attacked. He insisted that it is the duty of the FADM to guarantee the security of citizens and of the democratic state, and it would continue to do this.

Macuacua stressed that at no time has Guebuza “declared war”, as Renamo spokesmen are claiming. The President, he added, remains willing to meet Dhlakama face to face. However, Dhlakama’s whereabouts are currently unknown. When the FADM overran the Satunjira base on Monday, Dhlakama was nowhere to be found, and is believed to have fled towards Gorongosa mountain.

Meanwhile, a strengthened military escort has been placed on the main north-south highway, to protect vehicles travelling along the 100 kilometre stretch between the Save River and the small town of Muxungue. This was the stretch of road where Renamo staged several ambushes in June and, despite Dhlakama’s promise that they would not be repeated, the army is taking no chances.

Thus hundreds of vehicles, including heavy trucks and passenger buses, left Muxungue on Tuesday under military escort, heading for the Save river and the south of the country.

Post published in: Africa News

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