Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo, is free to leave his bush hideout in the Gorongosa mountain range any time he likes in order to take part in normal political, economic and social life, according to the deputy head of the government delegation to the dialogue with Renamo, Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse, cited in Saturday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
Muthisse was reacting to a press conference given by Dhlakama by mobile phone on Friday in which he said that, although he wanted to take part in election campaigning, he could not leave Gorongosa without “security guarantees”
Muthisse stressed that, contrary to Renamo claims, the government is not aid chasing Dhlakama with the intention of finishing him off militarily.
He said that, although Dhlakama was free to leave his bush camp, in doing so he should bring with him his gunmen and turn them over to the government so that they can be integrated into the armed forces and police, or into other sectors of the country's economic and social life. Alternatively, he could simply disband them, and send them away without their guns, if he no longer had any use for them.
“Afonso Dhlakama is free to leave his hideout, but his status will not be the same”, said Muthisse. “He cannot continue to keep armed men in Gorongosa, Satunjira, Muxungue, or anywhere else in the country. In our country there is no room for Renamo gunmen”.
Dhlakama has claimed that he is “surrounded” by the army and the police and has demanded their withdrawal as a condition for his leaving Gorongosa.
Muthisse rejected this demand.
“The defence and security forces are in Mozambican territory”, said the Minister. “If Dhlakama leaves Gorongosa, he will find members of the defence and security forces in any other part of the national territory. If he leaves Gorongosa for Beira, he will find police and troops there. If he comes to Maputo, he will also find police and troops here”.
As for the Renamo proposal that the two sides should sign a ceasefire to bring an end to armed hostilities, Muthisse said the government sees no need for this.
“What should happen is that Renamo should stop attacked civilian and police targets, and stop ambushing troops. If Renamo does this, the country will return to normality”, he said.