4 March 2014

Mozambique: Renamo Talks in Maputo, Kills in Sofala

Photo: J. Jackson/VOA
Renamo rebels being re-trained for combat at a remote bush camp near Gorongosa mountains (file photo).

Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo held yet another round of talks with the government on Monday, a day after Renamo gunmen had murdered four members of the Frontier Guard in Gorongosa district, in the central province of Sofala.

According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", the Renamo attack was against a Frontier Guard unit stationed at Mussicadzi II, 60 kilometres form Gorongosa town. The unit was less than 500 metres from the main north-south road, which runs through the middle of Gorongosa district.

The Frontier Guards (who are part of the police force) were surprised by the Renamo attack which lasted for less than five minutes. "When the government forces recovered from the surprise and began to return fire, the Renamo men fled into the bush", a police source told the paper.

But on Monday, a Renamo delegation was once again sitting round a table with the government in Maputo's Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre. Since Renamo has extracted most of the concessions it wanted from the government on the electoral legislation, the talks have now moved onto the second point on the agenda, which is defence and security issues.

For the government, this means the immediate and unconditional disarming of Renamo.

According to a report in the independent newsheet "Mediafax", the delegations agree that Renamo should be disarmed - but the head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, stressed "we have to define the modalities and conditions for this to happen".

Renamo is demanding an end to alleged "politicisiation" of the defence and security forces and of the public administration in general. It claims that members of the armed forces (FADM) who were recruited from Renamo in 1994, under the peace agreement which ended the war of destabilisation, have been compulsorily retired for political reasons.

Renamo also protests that the government has refused to incorporate its men into the police force. Apparently the Renamo delegation has no memory of what happened in the late 1990s, when Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama vetoed a plan to recruit members of Renamo's "Presidential Guard" into the police.

After the 1994 elections, Dhlakama said that he would disband his private militia, and the police could take over responsibility for his security, provided his men were allowed to join the police. The government asked for a list of these bodyguards whom Renamo would submit to police training.

After considerable delay, the list was provided, but the government insisted that, once trained as policemen, these men would have to obey police orders. As the then Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi put it in July 1997, "People cannot be trained as policemen and then take orders from the Renamo Central Committee".

Dhlakama point blank refused to any incorporation of his men into the police, if that meant losing control over them.

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