17 March 2014

Mozambique: Government, Opposition Say 'Confident' of Ceasefire Before Polls

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

The sides at the talks are confident that consensus on cease fire will be achieved even before the elections scheduled for 15 October. "Our perspective is that it will be achieved even before the elections scheduled for 15 October so that Mozambicans can vote without intimidation and in an atmosphere of complete peace. We are committed to that peace," Muthisse [minister of transport and communications] said.

In turn, the head of the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) to the talks [Saimone Macuiane], pointed out that the sides already have agreed that the cease fire must happen as urgently as possible. "I believe we will achieve that in good time," he said.

Government demands information on Renamo's men and arms

According to Muthisse, that request is for the purpose of learning the number of men currently carrying out attacks, which ! will determine the dimension of any assessment to be made with regard to participation by foreign observers.

In his explanation, the government's representative said that it would not be possible to so much as start analysing the process without knowing how many armed men are with Renamo. In addition, he stressed that a cease fire process presupposes the confinement of Renamo armed men for subsequent reintegration in society, and that has financial implications.

He added that "those men will need to eat, will need bath soap and toothpaste, and to quantify that type of logistics we need to know their number. What is more, those Renamo armed men have to be reintegrated into society and that carries costs. There is also the issue of possibly giving them training, and the pension that the government and the National Assembly approved for combatants going into retirement, whether they come from the government's forces or from Renamo."

Muthisse said that if Renamo really wants foreign observers and peace, then it must say to the government, to the people of Mozambique and the world by providing the information being requested. That said, the government team explained that it has not demanded a quick reply from Renamo because it understands that the request still has to be "chewed on and digested."

He explained that "there was no specific answer as to whether they agree and we have not applied any pressure for an answer to be given today. What we did was to emphasize that we see that as fundamental. It is an important step that would show to the government team, to society, to our people, and to the world that Renamo is committed to peace."

For its part, Renamo says it is still waiting for the government to present in writing the request for that information. Asked by journalists to comment on the government's demand, Macuiane made it clear that "truth to tell, Renamo has still not received that document from the government. The sole document handed over at the negotiating table was the on! e that Renamo brought. We expect the government to bring its reflections on the matter, too."

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