Maputo — Delegations from the Mozambican government and from the country’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, met in a Maputo hotel on Monday.
The meeting is taking place at the request of Renamo. The government delegation is led by Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, and also includes Deputy Fisheries Minister Gabriel Muthisse, and the Deputy Minister for the Public Service, Abdurremane Lino.
Heading the Renamo delegation is the party’s General Secretary, Manuel Bissopo, and the other members are Eduardo Namburete, Meque Bras and Abdul Magid Ibrahimo.
No public opening remarks were made at the start of the meeting, and reporters were only allowed to be present as the two delegations introduced each other.
No formal agenda has been published, but Renamo has declared it wants to discuss supposed violations of the peace accord that it signed in 1992 with the government. The peace accord regulated the ceasefire, the demobilization of the warring armies, the creation of a new unified Mozambique Defence Force (FADM), and all the conditions leading up to the 1994 general elections. It is hard to see how anyone can violate the accord 20 years later.
Renamo complains that the riot police (FIR) is not envisaged in the peace agreement. Neither is the traffic police, or indeed most state bodies, but the peace accord certainly does not prevent the government from setting them up.
At one point in mid-October, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama demanded that the FIR either be disbanded or be reshaped with 50 per cent of its members appointed by the government and 50 per cent by Renamo.
Dhlakama has also repeatedly claimed that general election results have all been fraudulent, and wants an effective Renamo veto over the electoral bodies. The electoral legislation is due to be voted on in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, later this month.
Renamo has been demanding to speak with President Armando Guebuza or with senior government figures ever since Dhlakama moved from his house in the northern city of Nampula to a bush camp in the central district of Gorongosa in mid-October.
Indeed, on 17 October, Dhlakama demanded that Guebuza meet him in Gorongosa within three days – an ultimatum which the president ignored.
Despite Renamo claims that the government intended to storm its Gorongosa headquarters or send in hit squads to assassinate Dhlakama, nothing at all has happened. Both Gorongosa district, and the country as a whole, seem entirely calm.
Nor is there any sign of the nation-wide demonstrations that Dhlakama has been threatening since he lost the October 2009 presidential election.