25 March 2014

Mozambique: No Observers From Outside Africa, Says Government

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

Maputo — The Mozambican government on Monday rejected the demand from the former rebel movement Renamo that representatives of the United Nations and of the European Union should monitor the cessation of hostilities between Renamo gunmen and the Mozambican defence and security forces.

Last week, the government conceded that international observers could monitor, within the dialogue between the government and Renamo, “the point that will contribute to ending the military clashes, if this comforts Renamo”.

But it is now clear that this government concession is restricted to Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and other members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and does not extend to the EU and the UN.

Nonetheless, at the end of the Monday session of the dialogue, the head of the government delegation, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, said the matter is not yet closed, and there is room for further discussion. In particular, the government was open to including more SADC members in the observation, in addition to the three initially proposed.

“We accepted observation because we felt that Renamo was experiencing some discomfort, some distrust”, said Pacheco. “The government has every interest in an immediate cessation of the Renamo attacks against citizens and against the defence and security forces. We are also interested in the unconditional disarming of Renamo so that Mozambicans can live and work fully in an environment of peace”.

The head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, continued to insist on the presence of EU and UN observers, in Renamo's habitual “all or nothing” attitude.

“In our proposal, we included EU countries and the UN”, he said. “On this matter there is still no consensus. But we shall work in order to attain consensus”.

He claimed that EU and UN participation is crucial to ensure a lasting peace in those areas of the central province of Sofala, where clashes have been continuing.

“Our hope is that we can work so that we really achieve a lasting peace for Mozambicans”, said Macuiana. “We must also work to guarantee that once this matter is overcome, there will never again be conflicts between us”.

“We are not saying that we want battalions of foreign troops, but a number of people, not more than 100, both Mozambicans and foreigners, to monitor, witness and give greater guarantees to the parties in the ceasefire”, he added. “But we repeat that we want a lasting ceasefire, and that's why we want the international community to monitor it”.

Renamo speaks repeatedly of a ceasefire - but as far as the government is concerned the ceasefire was signed in 1992. It was broken by Renamo in a highly successful attempt to extract concessions from the government over the electoral legislation. The issue now, as the government delegation has repeatedly demanded, is to ensure that the illegal security force that Renamo has kept for the last two decades should be dismantled and disarmed.

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