STV tonight (Wednesday) reports a major government concession to allow Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama to register before the 29 April deadline and thus stand for president in 15 October national elections So far, this has not been confirmed by any other source.
Dhlakama is believed to be in a Renamo base on the Gorongosa mountain, and Renamo said he would only register when he felt safe to do so. Renamo Tuesday asked for an extension of the registration period.
But government military action in the area yesterday, Tuesday morning, upset a fine balance. In a highly provocative action, government forces attacked a Renamo base at Nhaulunga with heavy weapons and shelling.
This base is about 10 kilometres from Satunjira, which had housed the headquarters of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama until it was occupied by the army (FADM) on 21 October. In the afternoon government troops withdrew, but were then ambushed by Renamo and two government soldiers were killed.
The area has been quiet recently, before the government attack. Indeed Noticias this morning (23 April) reported that Vale had resumed 24 hour coal trains; night-time trains had been suspended after a 1 April attack on a Vale train.
The attacks Tuesday obviously triggered concerns about the difficulty of registering Dhlakama and there were negotiations during the day, according to STV. Finally late this evening, the government accepted a Renamo proposal which it had rejected this afternoon.
Eight registration brigades in Gorongosa district have never been able to start work because of the continued fighting in the area between Renamo and the government. STV says that government this evening accepted a Renamo proposal that the eight brigades be protected by Renamo forces, and that there would be no government military presence.
This is a major and unprecedented concession by the government. It reflects the government desire to keep Renamo and Dhlakama in the electoral process at all costs. All of Dhlakama's demands are being met, including large numbers of Renamo people in the electoral system, so that if Dhlakama loses the presidential election he will not be able to claim that the system was biased against him.
By contrast, the government is taking a very hard line on Renamo demands for a complete restructuring of the military and police. This is totally unacceptable to Frelimo, which wants a small but loyal army. So the current position is to give Dhlakama anything he wants on elections, and nothing on the military and police.
Thus, in an unprecedented action, government is allowing Renamo military to guard eight registration posts in order to allow Dhlakama to feel safe enough to register. JH