24 May 2014

Mozambique: Civil Society Should Help Persuade Renamo to Cease Attacks

Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday invited civil society to help convince the former rebel movement Renamo that the Mozambican people want peace without any conditions.

Guebuza was speaking at a rally in the town of Chokwe, at the start of his “open and inclusive presidency” in the southern province of Gaza, and reacting to a message from civil society organizations urging the government to use all its skills to bring Renamo to end its armed attacks.

Guebuza replied that the government has indeed been working for this, but regretted that there are people who fail to recognise these efforts and blame the government for the current situation.

“I think civil society can help us mobilize Renamo”, he said, “When Renamo armed men appear, ask them ‘why are you using guns? Why don't you want to talk to solve the problem?''

Guebuza criticized Renamo for making an end to armed attacks conditional on reaching a definitive agreement in the long-running dialogue between Renamo and the government.

“The Renamo gunmen are Mozambicans”, said Guebuza. “When they want votes they will also come here.

So you have to be able to tell Renamo that it shouldn't kill us. Renamo shouldn't create difficulties in the country. Renamo should respect the will of the people”.

He asked why Renamo is making peace conditional on its hunger for controlling the defence and security forces. “The armed forces are part of the state”, he said. “The police are part of the state to defend the people. But Renamo wants these forces. What for? Is this just? The people should tell Renamo to do what the people want”.

Renamo, he insisted, should learn how to listen to the people, respect the will of the people, and opt for peace, “because we all desire peace”.

Despite the difficulties created by Renamo, Guebuza guaranteed that the government remains committed to dialogue. He believed that peace would be consolidated because one day “when Renamo wakes up, it will understand that this country needs peace”.

“Even Renamo needs peace”, he added. “Hence it will participate in democratic processes by means of the law, and not by breaking the law. We shall continue the dialogue with them”.

The government made enormous concessions at the dialogue table at the beginning of the year, granting Renamo almost all the changes in the electoral legislation it had demanded. The country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, then rubber-stamped these changes, with the result that Mozambique now has enormous, unwieldy electoral bodies stuffed full with political appointees. There are now around 3,000 extra staff in the electoral bodies at central, provincial, district and city level, appointed by the three parliamentary political parties (the ruling Frelimo Party, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM).

If the government imagined that these concessions would make Renamo more amenable to disarming its gunmen, and dismantling its illegal militia, it was sorely mistaken. Instead, Renamo has demanded a share-out of senior positions in the armed forces and police, and last week demanded foreign military “advisors” to supervise the cessation of hostilities.

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