RENAMO claims it is still committed to peace

The national spokesperson for Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, Fernando Mazanga, has backtracked on declarations he made on Monday, claiming that the peace agreement between Renamo and the government was now over, following the occupation by the armed forces (FADM) of Renamo’s bush headquarters at Satunjira, in the central district of Gorongosa.

Speaking on Thursday to the Portuguese News Agency, Lusa, Mazanga claimed that he had been “misinterpreted”, and that Renamo remains committed to respecting the peace agreement signed in 1992.

In fact, the statement read by Mazanga at his Monday press conference leaves little room for interpretation. Then Mazanga described the occupation of Satunjira as “the end of multi-party democracy in Mozambique”, and claimed that “the irresponsible attitude” of President Armando Guebuza, as Commander-in-Chief, had put an end to “the understandings of Rome” (i.e. the peace agreement, which was signed in the Italian capital).

In his interview with Lusa, Mazanga now claimed that it was the government, and not Renamo, that was breaking with the peace accord. “We shall issue a political declaration correcting the wrong interpretation that we have withdrawn from the agreement”, he said.

The proof that Renamo still respected the peace agreement, he added, was that the Renamo parliamentary group had attended the Mozambican parliament on Wednesday and Thursday.

Indeed, the Renamo parliamentarians played a full role in the parliamentary debates and votes. They made no attempt to paralyse the Assembly (as has happened on several previous occasions), and deputies interviewed by the independent television station STV stressed that they had received no instructions from the Renamo leadership to boycott the Assembly.

A further sign of a softening in Renamo’s attitude came from the respected academic, Lourenco do Rosario, Vice-Chancellor of the Polytechnic University, who has, in recent weeks, acted as a go-between carrying messages from Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to the government. Cited by STV, he said he had received assurances from Dhlakama that he would not retaliate for the capture of Satunjira.

This pledge seems to have been given after the Renamo raid on the small town of Maringue on Tuesday morning. It is not clear whether that was authorized by Dhlakama.

There have been a few other scattered actions. Thus on Tuesday afternoon, 24 hours after the fall of Satunjira, the military column escorting vehicles travelling along the main north-south highway on the stretch between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue came under Renamo fire.

The Renamo attack immobilized the last vehicle in the convoy, but nobody was killed or injured. Cited in the independent weekly “Savana”, Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi confirmed this attack, which took place about ten kilometers north of the Save.

The military have been escorting vehicles along this 100 kilometre stretch of road since June, when Renamo ambushes of civilian vehicles cost the lives of two people. Last Thursday Dhlakama called on President Guebuza to withdraw the military escort, and promised that there would be no further attacks on the road. The Tuesday incident makes it unlikely that the escort will be withdrawn, at least in the near future.

At his press conference in Chemba district on Thursday, at the end of his “Open and Inclusive Presidency” in Sofala province, Guebuza said the military escorts would only stop when the road was safe.

He could not give any date for withdrawing the escort, “because our forces have to guarantee that he situation remains calm, that the situation does not deteriorate”.

Post published in: Africa News

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