29 April 2014

Mozambique: Dialogue With Renamo Deadlocked Over Armed Forces

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Election posters in the Sofala province town of Gorongosa.

Maputo — Yet another round of dialogue between the Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo proved completely fruitless on Monday, as Renamo insisted on grabbing senior positions in the armed forces (FADM) and the police - something which the government has repeatedly ruled out.

The Monday meeting should have discussed the terms of reference for the foreign observers who will be invited to monitor a cessation of hostilities between the government forces and the Renamo gunmen currently operating in the central province of Sofala.

The presence of foreign observers was a Renamo demand, which the government accepted, but only if there is something for them to monitor - namely the demobilization and disarming of Renamo's forces. The government sees no point in inviting dozens of observers to watch a simple truce.

But Renamo once again said it will not demobilise unless the government accepts the principle of “parity” in the military and police between Renamo and the old government army, the FAM/FPLM, which was disbanded in 1994. Renamo's demand takes no account of the young officers who have joined the FADM since 1994, either as conscripts or as volunteers.

The head of the government delegation, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, told reporters that the Mozambican observers have drawn up a formulation which, among other matters, says the two sides should trust in the foreign observers to oversee, not merely a cessation of hostilities, but also the demobilization of the Renamo force and the reinsertion of its members into society.

Pacheco believed that the proposal from the national observers was “a good basis” for work - indeed at the meeting, the government had abandoned its own formulation in favour of that from the observers “because it reflects both our interests and those of Renamo”.

But instead of discussing the observers' proposal, Pacheco continued, “Renamo purely and simply went back to the question of parity in the defence and security forces”.

This meant, he said, that Renamo is a party which is unwilling to demobilise and to integrate its men into the armed forces and police through normal means.

“Renamo has clearly said once more that it wants to remain armed and to kill defenceless citizens”, said Pacheco. “It wants to continue attacking the defence and security forces, and to destroy public and private property”.

“Parity in the defence and security forces is out of the question”, he stressed.

Much to Renamo's annoyance, the government has decided to reduce the number of these fruitless meetings. Doubtless the two ministers on the delegation (Pacheco and Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse) feel they have better things to do with their time than spend hour after hour, two or three times a week, patiently telling Renamo that it cannot have 50 per cent of the command positions in the armed forces and police.

The head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, protested that this showed the government was not willing to bring the matter to a close.

“Last Friday there was no dialogue”, he told reporters, “and once again the government has asked that we do not work next Wednesday and Friday. We will meet only on Mondays. This shows a lack of will”.

As for the proposal made by the national observers, Macuiana said Renamo had proposed additional points, such as the withdrawal of both government forces and Renamo gunmen from the conflict areas.

“In our understanding, we will not reach an end to the hostilities, if the government continues to position its forces in the conflict zones”, he said. “Once the hostilities have ceased, it is fundamental that the forces, both of Renamo and of the government, withdraw to guarantee that the zone is free”.

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