New Zimbabwe (London)

9 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Chihuri Warns Against Renamo Threat

POLITICAL unrest in the neighbouring Mozambique and continued interference by some Western countries remain the major threats to Zimbabwe's security and stability, police chief Augustine Chihuri has said.

Officiating at a pass-out parade of Support Unit officers during the week, Chihuri said Zimbabwe's stability was at stake if political unrest in Mozambique was not checked.

"The biggest danger that our country is facing today lies at the crossroads of continued persecution by the country's detractors and the possibility of a spill over from the disturbances that are currently being experienced across our country's eastern borders," he said.

Chihuri urged the ZRP's fighting unit to be alert for potential trouble from Mozambique's former rebel Renamo group.

"As a country, we should not allow such efforts to succeed," he said.

There has been political turbulence in Mozambique after Renamo unilaterally abandoned a peace treaty it had signed with the governing political party, Frelimo.

The Afonso Dhlakama led party claims that it neglected the peace deal in demand of greater political participation in the Frelimo controlled government.

Tensions escalated between Mozambique's Frelimo-led government and Renamo in June last year with the former rebel group saying it was ending the 1992 peace accord with the government.

Dhlakama has vowed to return the country to war unless the government agrees to discuss a list of demands, including the sharing of resource wealth.

"Let me reiterate that the re-emergence of Renamo bandits in Mozambique is a cause for concern," said Chihuri.

Zimbabwe sent troops to Mozambique in the 1980s as a civil war raged the neighbouring country. The deployment was meant to secure Zimbabwe's key trade routes to the sea as well as prevent the conflict spilling over into parts of the eastern Manicaland province.

A series of political talks aimed at ending the conflict broke down after government forces attacked Dhlakama's Gorongosa stronghold last October, sending him scurrying into hiding.

Chihuri claimed that Renamo could be working with western powers who do not want to see peace in Africa, particularly Southern African countries.

Although, in April, Renamo claimed that it had reached a peace deal with its rivals, Chihuri said the police combat unit should be on standby to deal with any attempted comeback by the rebels, especially as the country heads into election in October this year.

Mozambique is set to hold general elections in November and Renamo boss, Afonso Dhlakama, this week registered to vote in the ballot, raising hope of an end to his low-level insurgency.

Dhlakama, who has lived in the bush for more than a year to escape what he said was government persecution, told reporters he was interested in reaching a deal with the government.

"If we can reach an agreement on the political tensions, then we can end this. We could have an effective ceasefire as early as tomorrow, it depends on the other side," he said.

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