1 February 2014

Mozambique: Government and Renamo Agree On Five Observers

Photo: DW
Afonso Dhlakama

Maputo — The Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo have agreed on the names of five Mozambicans who will act as observers during the dialogue between the government and Renamo in order to solve the current political-military tension

The government and Renamo delegations met for two hours on Saturday morning, but at the end of the meeting they did not reveal the names of the observers they had in mind. They simply told reporters they had reached consensus on the names, but needed to consult with them to check whether they are available and willing to participate in the dialogue.

However, two of the names are already known - they are Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane and the Vice-Chancellor of the Polytechnic University, Lourenco do Rosario, who have already been carrying messages between President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

The dialogue resumed on 27 January after a hiatus of more than three months. During that period Renamo boycotted meetings because it was demanding the presence of Mozambican and foreign observers and mediators.

The government rejected any foreign mediation, but accepted Mozambican observers. Despite this Renamo continued its boycott until the end of January.

In a document dated 5 December, Renamo listed the observers and mediators it wanted. It demanded mediation by Mozambican constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac, Italian bishop Matteo Zuppi, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and an unnamed representative of the European Union.

As for observers, Renamo proposed four Mozambicans - Sengulane, Rosario, the former Vice-Chancellor of Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University, Filipe Couto, and Alice Mabota, Chairperson of the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH). Six foreign observers were proposed, but all are countries rather than individuals.

They are: the United States, China, Portugal, Cape Verde, Kenya and Botswana.

It is not yet known which, if any, of these names have been accepted. The head of the Renamo delegation, senior parliamentary deputy Saimone Macuiana, said the two sides have agreed on the terms of reference that will govern the work of the observers.

“During the talks the two sides decided that space is open for Mozambican citizens and institutions who want to contribute to the success of the negotiations between Renamo and the Government”, said Macuiana.

For his part, the head of the government delegation, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, said he was satisfied at the “cordial atmosphere” that characterized Saturday's talks.

“The choice of Mozambicans for the dialogue demonstrates our self-esteem”, he said. “It was positive that we have established a platform for the participation of Mozambican third parties in the dialogue to witness how the parties are dealing with questions of national interest”.

Pacheco added that Renamo is also cooperating by signing the minutes of previous sessions of the dialogue. As from mid-2013, Renamo had refused to sign the minutes - even though these documents are merely a record of who said what. The minister said that Renamo has now signed six of the minutes from previous meetings.

It is not yet clear whether Renamo has made any commitment to stop ambushes on the main north-south road, and other attacks against civilian and military targets. However, over the past week there have been no reports of any such attacks.

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