Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza has stressed the urgent need for the former rebel movement Renamo to cease all hostilities and find mechanisms that will lead to the long-awaited meeting between the President and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
Speaking in an interview with Mozambique Television (TVM), after the closing ceremony of a sergeants' course at the barracks of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) in Boane, 30 kilometres west of Maputo, Guebuza stressed his conviction that only dialogue can solve the current situation of confrontation between Renamo's military wing and the Mozambican defence and security forces.
It was on that basis that he had invited Dhlakama for talks in Maputo on 8 November. But Dhlakama did not appear, and it is unclear whether the invitation ever reached him. Dhlakama's current whereabouts are unknown and he has not been seen in public since the FADM occupied his bush headquarters at Satunjira in the central district of Gorongosa.
Guebuza noted that a recent statement by the Mozambican catholic bishops also declares that dialogue is the only way forward. “They're also calling on me”, he said, “and so I think I'm on the right path when I want dialogue. But I get the impression that they must have other ideas which could be useful in this process of dialogue and the solution of problems”.
In the current conflict, the President added, the FADM are behaving in a restrained manner and are not attacking civilian targets. He cited the case of attacks in the Muxungue area, in Sofala province, on the main north-south highway, where Renamo has been firing on civilian vehicles.
In contrast, the FADM has been attempting to save lives and property by providing military escorts for convoys of vehicles on this stretch of road. As for the occupation of Satunjira, Guebuza described this as a reaction to Renamo ambushes of FADM units.
“It is Renamo that has to cease hostilities”, Guebuza stressed. What the FADM needed was the certainty that they would no longer face military activities from Renamo
As for claims in some quarters that the current clashes have been deliberately engineered to allow Guebuza to remain in power after his current term of office ends, the President said that anyone thinking along those lines was uninformed or ill-intentioned.
“I have said on other occasions that I am a man of my word. That means I have sworn to defend the Constitution and I respect the Constitution”, he said.
“So I am working to solve the problems in the country today in the full awareness that I will end my term of office and afterwards others will continue to take Mozambique forward”.
Under the Constitution, no-one may serve more than two consecutive five year terms as President, and so Guebuza cannot stand for a third term when Presidential elections are held in October 2014. He has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of attempting to change the Constitution so that he can run for office again.