Assembly ratifies cessation of hostilities

The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Monday unanimously ratified the cessation of hostilities between the government and the former rebel movement Renamo.

Jose Pacheco
Jose Pacheco

The agreement was initially signed on 24 August by the heads of the delegations to the long-running government-Renamo dialogue, namely Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco and Renamo parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana. Renamo then demanded parliamentary ratification – a move which the majority Frelimo Party initially regarded as unnecessary and superfluous.

Last Friday, President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, appended their signatures to the agreement at a ceremony in Maputo. Guebuza immediately sent the agreement to parliament for ratification, and the Assembly met in Maputo for an extraordinary sitting on Monday at which ratification was the only item on the agenda.

For the first time, the agreement was officially published. It had, however, been leaked in August, and the independent weekly “Savana” and AIM published parts of it. The version voted on in the Assembly is exactly the same as the one leaked to “Savana”.

The main document in the agreement is a “memorandum of understanding” on defence and security issues. Alarmingly, this gives no timetable at all for the disarming of Renamo’s militia, now referred to as its “residual forces”.

The memorandum merely states that teams of military experts from the government and Renamo will present a document to a plenary session of the dialogue, at an unspecified future date, “containing the questions relating to the integration of the residual forces of Renamo into the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) and the police”.

Once that integration is complete “all the military equipment will be delivered to the defence and security forces”, the memorandum says. “When the entire process is over no party should possess residual armed forces on the margins of the process of reintegration and the law”.

This is to be implemented by foreign military observers, to be known by the acronym EMOCHM (Military Observation Team on the Cessation of Hostilities).

These observers are due to start arriving on Tuesday – but since the document from the Renamo and government military experts has not yet been discussed (and may not even have been drafted), there will be precious little for them to observe.

There is nothing specific in the memorandum at all – no mention of how large Renamo’s “residual forces” are, how many of them will go into the army and police, how many will be demobilised, and what the timetable will be.

One provision in the memorandum has already been implemented. It declares that “after the end of military hostilities, nobody belonging to either side may be brought before the courts based on acts arising from those hostilities or linked situations”.

In line with that, the Assembly passed an amnesty law on 12 August, over a week before the cessation of hostilities was officially declared. The amnesty law took effect when it was published in the official gazette, the “Boletim da Republica” on 18 August.

The rest of the memorandum of understanding states uncontroversial general principles. It says, for example, “the defence and security forces shall be republican. That is, non-partisan, serving the Republic of Mozambique with professionalism, respecting the constitutional order, which is based on the rule of law, democracy and social justice”.

The government would claim this has been the case for the past 20 years, while Renamo argues that the FADM and the police have been at the service of Frelimo.

A second document concerns “Guarantee Mechanisms”. It commits the two sides “to dedicate all their energies to complying with and respecting the content of the present understandings”, and “not to violate or abandon the letter and the spirit of the consensual text”.

But should any differing interpretations arise the two sides shall meet to decide definitively on the meaning of any section of the text which had caused doubt.

Neither the government nor Renamo should make any “new, different demands which distort the line and meaning of the present understandings”. Nonetheless, if any such demands were to appear, “the sides shall meet to find a solution based on consensus”.

Once the amnesty had been declared, any later acts “which constitute a violation or unilateral abandonment of the agreed principles will be dealt with and punished in terms of the applicable legislation”.

The final document, the terms of reference for EMOCHM, is much more specific. It says there will be 23 foreign military observers, plus 70 Mozambican officers, half from the government and half from Renamo. The countries who will send observers are Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Cape Verde, Portugal, Italy, Britain and the United States.

The central command of EMOCHM will be in Maputo, headed by a Botswanan brigadier, assisted by four colonels – a Zimbabwean, an Italian, and two Mozambicans, one from the government and one from Renamo – and a foreign Lieutenant-Colonel and Mayor, whose nationalities are not specified.

There will be EMOCHM sub-teams in the southern province of Inhambane, the northern province of Nampula and the central provinces of Sofala and Tete. The terms of reference give the composition of these sub-teams in great detail.

All the costs of EMOCHM will be borne by the Mozambican government.

The purpose of EMOCHM is given as “to observe, monitor and guarantee implementation of the cessation of hostilities and the start of the subsequent phases, in the terms envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding”.

Ratification was the occasion of a great deal of embracing between deputies from the three parliamentary groups. But the speeches made indicated the gulfs that still exist.

Thus the head of the Renamo group, Angelina Enoque, claimed it had been necessary “to embark upon violence in order to achieve dialogue” (even though the government-Renamo dialogue began in April 2013, and the first Renamo armed attacks against traffic on the main north-south highway took place in late June of that year).

But the head of the Frelimo group, Margarida Talapa, pointed out “we insistently said that nothing justified the resort to force of arms, whatever the interests that were being defended”.

She thought it important to ponder “if we might not have been able to reach an agreement with less pain, with no blood, but with more capacity to explain and to convince”.

Post published in: Africa News

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