No agreement on Guebuza-Dhlakama meeting

Although the Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo have reached an agreement in principle on a cessation of hostilities, the government-Renamo dialogue has run into yet another impasse, this time on exactly how the final documents are to be approved.

President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

Three documents were agreed on Monday – a memorandum of understanding, a set of guarantees for the implementation of the consensus achieved during the dialogue, and the terms of reference for the international observers who are to monitor the cessation of hostilities.

These documents were signed by the heads of the two delegations – Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco for the government, and parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana for Renamo. But now the documents must be confirmed and approved at a higher level.

The government believes a final text, incorporating the three documents agreed on Monday, should be signed by President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. But Renamo claims there is no need for Dhlakama to approve the agreement in person, since he has authorised the delegation to sign on his behalf.

At the Wednesday round of talks (the 71st since the dialogue began in April 2013) the two sides drew up the final text that will be approved by the top leadership, without agreeing on exactly who is to sign it.

Pacheco had no doubts. He told reporters that the final text must be signed by Guebuza and Dhlakama. “We shall identify the best ways for the two parties to meet in Maputo to initial this document”, he promised.

Renamo seemed to feel some discomfort from the military point of view, Pacheco added, “and so the two parties shall work to achieve this comfort Renamo wants for its leader”.

“The point is to bring Mr Dhlakama to the capital to initial the document with President Armando Guebuza”, he insisted. “It is up to the head of state, as Commander-in-Chief, to give orders to the defence and security forces”.

Macuiana, however, just repeated what he had said two days earlier – for him, what was important was not exactly who approved the document, but that it be approved.

“The most important thing for Mozambicans is that the end of hostilities is declared – that is that a ceasefire is declared”, he said. “They want to know that we have a ceasefire”.

He added “on our side, we have a mandate to declare a ceasefire, but our brothers don’t have the go-ahead from the government, which is why it has not yet been possible”.

Dhlakama has not been seen in public since he registered as a voter in May, although he has been in telephone contact with other Renamo leaders, with journalists and at least once with Guebuza. He is believed to be living in a Renamo base on the slopes of the Gorongosa mountain range, in the central province of Sofala.

Dhlakama has cited security fears as his main reason for not visiting Maputo. That objection, however, fell away on Tuesday night, when the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, passed an amnesty for crimes committed during the recent wave of Renamo military activities. This guarantees that Dhlakama will not be arrested when he sets foot in Maputo.

The government has also offered to provide Dhlakama with whatever means of transport he needs to leave his bush hideout and make his way to Maputo. But so far there is no sign of Renamo accepting this offer.

Post published in: Africa News

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