17 April 2014

Mozambique: Renamo Will Hand Over Weapons, but Not Demilitarise

Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo has agreed to hand over its weapons to the government, and for its men to join the defence and security forces, but it still refuses to demilitarise and become a normal political party, according to Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse, the deputy head of the government delegation to the long running dialogue between the government and Renamo.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, at the end of yet another round of dialogue, one which lasted for seven hours, Muthisse said “Renamo accepts the principle of integrating its men into the defence and security forces, it accepts the principle of handing over its weapons, but it still does not agree to demilitarize.

We are saying history tells us there have been cases in which rebels join the armed forces and hand over their weapons - but this does not necessarily mean that those parties or rebel movements cease to have a military component”.

Indeed, Mozambique was one of those cases. In 1994, volunteers from Renamo were integrated into the new, unified armed forces, the FADM, Muthisse recalled.

“Guns were delivered and were collected, but that didn't mean that Renamo no longer had a military component”, he said. “So this time, apart from these two activities, it is necessary to envisage a third, which is the demilitarization of Renamo, so that this party comes to have just one vocation - politics”.

In the government's understanding, handing over guns does not, on its own, constitute demilitarisaton.

Asked if, during this round, the two sides had discussed Renamo's demand for senior positions in the armed forces and the police, raised for the first time on Monday, Muthisse said the two sides should discuss each matter at the right moment, obeying the agenda for the dialogue.

The two sides could not move on to other themes without concluding the discussion on the matters currently on the table. He pointed out that the Renamo demand to control the armed forces had never been presented before. It was not on the agenda for the dialogue which Renamo itself had proposed a year ago.

“We are prepared to discuss the agenda which Renamo presented, and which is registered in the minutes of previous meetings”, said Muthisse.

However, on Monday the head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, had made it clear that Renamo would not disarm, until it had secured senior military positions, including that of chief of staff of the armed forces.

The Wednesday meeting also continued the discussion of the terms of reference for the participation of foreign observers in monitoring a cessation of hostilities.

Muthisse said that once again the two sides could not reach consensus.

The call for foreign observers is a Renamo demand, which the government reluctantly accepted but only on condition that the observers monitor the disarmament of Renamo, and the start to reintegrating Renamo gunmen into society, rather than merely observing a simple truce.

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