Mozambican government and Renamo declare cessation of hostilities

The Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo on Sunday night signed the final document declaring a cessation of hostilities throughout the country.

Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama
Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama

The original proposal that the declaration be signed by President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama was frustrated when Dhlakama refused to leave his base somewhere in the central district of Gorongosa. He told reporters that he could not travel to Maputo for fear of being assassinated.

The two leaders then authorised the heads of the delegations to the long-running dialogue between the government and Renamo, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco and Renamo parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana, to sign the declaration.

Even this was not simple. The first attempt at a signing ceremony, last Thursday, came to nothing because Renamo had no written document from Dhlakama delegating powers to Macuiana. The government refused to accept a merely verbal statement from the Renamo leader.

On Sunday, however, Renamo brought an official power of attorney, signed by Dhlakama, which authorised Macuiana to sign in his stead.

Even with this, it was five hours before a final text of the declaration was ready to be signed. During this period Renamo asked for four interruptions, doubtless in order to phone Dhlakama.

At the ceremony nobody explained the delay – but it seems that the only difference was what to call the document. Renamo demanded that it be called a “ceasefire”, whereas the government insisted on the term “cessation of hostilities” (a term which Renamo had accepted in the past). The term “ceasefire” would be appropriate to a formally declared and generalized conflict, but not to sporadic attacks and ambushes mostly affecting parts of just one province, Sofala.

As far as the government is concerned, the real ceasefire occurred on 4 October 1992, with the General Peace Agreement which ended the war of destabilisation.

Even before Sunday’s ceremony, the guns had fallen silent. No significant military operations have been reported since late June. For two months there have been no Renamo ambushes on the stretch of the main north-south road between the Save river and the small Sofala town of Muxungue, which previously had been highly dangerous. Not have there been any further clashes between government and Renamo forces in the Gorongosa area.

Speaking immediately after the signing, Pacheco claimed that the agreement would still be approved by Guebuza and Dhlakama in a public ceremony in the near future. But this has yet to be confirmed by Renamo.

Attached to the declaration of a cessation of hostilities are the three documents which the government and Renamo delegations approved on 11 August. The most important of these is a Memorandum of Understanding which envisages the integration of what it calls the “residual forces of Renamo” into the army and the police, and the collection of all their weapons, but gives no details.

Indeed, the fate of Renamo’s “residual forces” depends on the teams of government and Renamo military experts who must present a document to a plenary session of the government-Renamo dialogue concerning all the questions of integrating these Renamo fighters into the armed forces and the police.

Once these “residual forces” have been “integrated”, all their military equipment will be handed over to the defence and security forces. The memorandum declares that when these procedures are completed, “no political party should have residual armed forces”.

This “integration” and disarmament of Renamo is to be accompanied and monitored by the international observers, to be known by the acronym EMOCHM (International Observer Military Team for the Cessation of Military Hostilities). As agreed many months ago, the countries invited to send observers are Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Cape Verde, Portugal, Italy, Britain and the United States

The Terms of Reference for EMOCHM state that there will be 23 foreign military observers, accompanied by 70 Mozambican officers, half from the government and half from Renamo. Their task will be “to observe, monitor and guarantee implementation of the cessation of military hostilities and the start of the subsequent phases, in the terms envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding”.

EMOCHM will begin its work ten days after it has been formed – but there is not yet any firm date for the formation of the mission. It will work for 135 days, but this period may be extended. This means that the two sides fully expect the work of the observers to last well beyond the general elections scheduled for 15 October.

The EMOCM Central Command will be based in Maputo, under a brigadier from Botswana, assisted by four colonels, a Zimbabwean, an Italian and two Mozambicans (one appointed by the government and one by Renamo).

The clauses on the “integration” and disarmament of the Renamo residual forces mention no numbers. There is nothing in the agreement about how many men Renamo has under arms, how many of them might join the army and police and how many will be demobilised.

Post published in: Africa News

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