Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo on Monday demanded senior posts in the armed forces and police as a condition for disarming its remaining gunmen, but the government rejected this demand as “an aberration”.
After the 53rd round of the apparently interminable dialogue between the government and Renamo, the head of the Renamo delegation, senior parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana, declared that Renamo would only hand over its guns and its men if the government accepted its demand.
“For more than 20 years, the Chief of the General Staff has come from the former Armed Forces for the Liberation of Mozambique (FPLM)”, he said. “We think it would be opportune, as from now, if he and his deputy were to come from Renamo.
We also said that in the other departments, half should be from Renamo and the other half from the old FPLM. We want our men to be in the army, the navy and the air force. If somebody from Renamo is the commander, somebody from the FPLM should be his deputy and vice versa”.
“Obviously some (of the Renamo gunmen) can go into the police, and another part will be socially and economically integrated”, he added.
The FPLM was the guerrilla army set up by the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), in the war for independence from Portuguese colonial rule.
After independence, it was transformed into a conventional army, and renamed the Mozambican Armed Forces (FAM). But the old name did not die, and the army was commonly referred to as the FAM/FPLM.
Under the peace agreement signed between the government and Renamo in 1992, both the FAM/FPLM and the Renamo forces were to be dismantled, giving way to new, unified armed forces, the FADM (Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique).
The agreement envisaged a 30,000 strong FADM with 15,000 coming from the FAM/FPLM and 15,000 from Renamo.
But the agreement also stated that they must all be volunteers - and after a 16 year war, there were not many volunteers to be found on either side.
Attempts to pressgang men into the FADM failed, and in mid-1994 a wave of mutinies spread through both the government and Renamo assembly points where fighters had gathered to be demobilised. The vast majority of troops on both sides were demanding to receive their demobilisation pay and to go home.
The body in charge of implementing the peace agreement, the UN-chaired Supervisory and Control Commission, with the agreement of both the government and Renamo, decided simply to recruit as many volunteers as possible. The question of parity between the FAM/FPLM and Renamo in the armed forces was dropped.
That was why the FPLM was formed with just 11,579 troops, two thirds from the FAM/FPLM and one third from Renamo. 78,660 troops from the two sides were demobilised.
In the two decades since then, the FADM has grown on the basis of normal military recruitment - mostly conscripts, but a good sprinkling of volunteers. 18 year olds registered for military service are not asked which political party they support.
Nonetheless, Macuiana demanded a return to the politicisation of the FADM and of the police, and a reintroduction of the principle of parity - even in specialist unit such as the riot police, and in such bodies as police schools. Only when these demands were granted would Renamo hand over its weapons.
He claimed that most of the Renamo volunteers from 1994 had been retired from the FADM, or transformed into advisors or deputy directors, and that officers from Renamo were discriminated against in promotions.
Macuiana admitted that men drawn from Renamo are still in the FADM. “We don't want them to stay there as advisors and cooks for other”, he said. “We want them to be true soldiers in the army. We are not going to bring others. Likewise for the police and the riot police”.
The head of the government delegation to the dialogue, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, described the Renamo demands as “an aberration”. Such demands, he added, merely demonstrated Renamo's desire “to continue killing and to maintain disorder and public insecurity”.
The Mozambican constitution and subsequent legislation, he said, decree that the state and the public administration should be organised along non-party political lines.
Renamo itself had proposed, as the subsequent point in the dialogue with the government, “the depoliticisation of the public administration”. Yet it was now proposing the politicisation of the armed forces.
“Renamo has gone as far as to say that the commander must be from Renamo, the chief of the general staff must be from Renamo. This is an aberration!”, Pacheco declared.
He said the government will try to persuade Renamo to have a sense of the State, and to strike a patriotic attitude.
“The time has come for Renamo to show that it wants peace, by demilitarising itself”, Pacheco said. “It must accept that the observers are coming to monitor demilitarization”.
Renamo had demanded foreign observers, and the government eventually accepted. But no observers have yet been formally invited, since there is no agreement on their terms of reference. The government insists there is no point in observers coming unless they are going to observe the disarming of Renamo
“The government has shown its concern for the national interest, and so far has made concessions”, continued Pacheco. “But we cannot hand over the destiny of Mozambique on a platter.
The people have given us the task of leading their destinies. Renamo has to show that it is interested in the development of the Mozambican economy, on the basis of democracy and respect for human life”.
Pacheco insisted that the government want to reintegrated into society “those citizens who, unfortunately, are being used as an instrument to kill our brothers”.
The recruitment of the Renamo fighters into the FADM, should be on the basis of their skills, he said. Those who could not be recruited, would be given a military pension, or simply sent back into civilian society.
Renamo, he accused, was a party “which has embarked upon violence to achieve power. But the government will make efforts so that Renamo ceases its violence and can re-insert itself into the social life of Mozambicans”.