Maputo — The Mozambican government on Monday accused the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo of intransigence in the fruitless dialogue between the government and Renamo, which has been under way since April.
The dialogue has now ground to a complete standstill, with Renamo refusing to attend any further meetings unless national and international observers and mediators are also present.
The government has agreed to the participation of Mozambican observers but has ruled out inviting foreign observers on the grounds that the matters under discussion are internal Mozambican affairs.
So once again on Monday Renamo did not show up at the meeting the government had scheduled. The government delegation, led by Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, arrived at Maputo's Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre, but there was no sign of the Renamo delegation.
“When there is dialogue, there are differing points of view”, Pacheco told reporters. “The government is willing to accommodate national observers, but, as always, Renamo is not willing to yield on its demands”.
The dialogue was requested by Renamo, and it was Renamo which suggested the agenda points - namely revising the electoral legislation, defence and security matters, separating the state from political parties, and unspecified economic matters.
But in 24 rounds, the discussions never moved beyond the first point, since Renamo demanded “parity” with the ruling Frelimo Party on the National Elections Commission, and that the government should impose this on the Frelimo group in parliament. The government refused to give orders to parliament, and Renamo refused to discuss anything else.
After the 24th round, Renamo abandoned the dialogue, demanding the presence of observers. Pacheco accused Renamo of being inconsistent in its demands. “Renamo first wanted facilitators”, he said, “then observers, then international observers, and now it's talking about mediation”.
“What does Renamo want?”, he asked. “The government said - OK, let's have Mozambican observers, but after we made that concession, Renamo comes up with a new proposal, which is for mediation, and it is not clear what role these mediators would have”.
Every time the government makes a concession, Renamo produces a new demand, he accused. “We say - dear fellow countrymen of Renamo, let's talk about this in the dialogue meetings, but Renamo purely and simply doesn't show up. For example, with regard to mediators, observers, facilitators, we have to decide together who they are and what they would do”.
Pacheco said the government is not giving up, despite Renamo's repeated absence from the meetings.
The government was always willing to hold the dialogue “until such time as Renamo has expressed in writing that it has abandoned the dialogue”.
For as long as Renamo had not taken that step, the government remained willing to talk, bearing in mind that most of the points on the agenda for the dialogue had not yet been discussed.