Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday repeated that he is willing to meet with Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the country's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.
However, Renamo itself was putting difficulties in the path of such a meeting, he told reporters in the town of Nova Mambone, at the end of his “Open and Inclusive Presidency” in the southern province of Inhambane.
He said that the Renamo delegation that has been talking to the government in Maputo has, whenever the government expresses its willingness to meet with Dhlakama, put new demands on the table.
“The government really does want a meeting between myself and Dhlakama”, said Guebuza. “We have said this for a long time, and I would like to think that they too believe that, whenever I can, I meet with him. I have done so in the past”.
But the President added that any meeting with Dhlakama “must not feed expectations that are then not fully satisfied. For this would send a very strong signal, not because of the meeting, but because they day after the meeting people returned to feeling frustrated”.
Any such meeting should give real hope that problems were being solved, Guebuza insisted. After the meeting “people should feel more at liberty”, and should be able to return to their normal lives.
Guebuza said that one of the fundamental issues he would raise with Dhlakama was the disarming of all Renamo forces “so that politics can be discussed in a peaceful manner”. The Renamo leader should not expect to discuss political matters “with guns in his hands”.
“On the day that I am face to face with Afonso Dhlakama, I shall say that it is urgent to de-activate all the armed forces under his control”, he insisted. Guns and threats were not the appropriate means to make politics.
Guebuza hoped that, when the meeting occurred, it would be crowned with success so as to satisfy the expectations of the Mozambican people, particularly for an end to all foci of violence.
A group of envoys from the Electoral Observatory, the largest Mozambican electoral observation group, consisting of a coalition of the main religious denomination in the country and several major NGOs, is due to meet Dhlakama on Friday at his bush camp at Satunjira, in the central district of Gorongosa.
The meeting, at the Observatory's request, is expected to focus on preparing a Guebuza-Dhlakama meeting.