Mozambique: Dialogue Still Deadlocked Over Foreign Observers

Maputo — The political dialogue between the Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo remained deadlocked on Monday as yet another meeting failed to make any headway on the terms of reference for the foreign observers who should monitor a cessation of hostilities.

It was Renamo which insisted on foreign observers. The government accepted but argues that rather than just observe a simple truce, they must also monitor the disarming and demobilization of Renamo forces.

Renamo however shows no sign of demobilizing until it is given half of the senior positions in the armed forces (FADM) and the police. Renamo is also demanding that the government withdraw the defence and security forces from the area of the Gorongosa mountain range, in the central province of Sofala, where the party's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, has his hideout.

At the end of the meeting, the head of the government delegation, Jose Pacheco, said that Renamo has displayed no willingness to abandon hostilities and surrender its weapons. He warned that, even if Renamo did deliver a handful of guns, that would not mean it had demilitarised. Incomplete disarming would mean that “in the future we will once again be dealing with the same matter”.

“Renamo says it will only hand over its weapons to a credible institution, but it doesn't say what institution this is”, added Pacheco.

“Renamo insists on the withdrawal of the defence and security forces in Gorongosa”, he continued. “If this happens Renamo could continue re-equipping, and go on slaughtering defenceless civilians and the other forms of violence which characterise it”.

As for the foreign observers, Renamo now wanted them “to come and reorganise the defence and security forces”, said Pacheco. “But they are already organised, maintaining public order and defending sovereignty”.

Once again the government delegation had asked Renamo to put on its agenda a meeting in Maputo between Dhlakama and President Armando Guebuza. “We said we are willing to pay Dhlakama's travel costs, as long as Renamo gives us very precise indications about who it wants to bring their leader to the dialogue table”, said the Minister.

As for Renamo's repeated demand for “security guarantees” for Dhlakama, Pacheco denied that the government has any interest in killing the Renamo leader. “At no time has his physical integrity been at risk”, he said. “Indeed, the government wants him healthy so that he can participate in the elections, and so that he is not sacrificed by the city-dwelling white collar members of the Renamo parliamentary group”.

If the government had really wanted to kill Dhlakama “it would have done so when he registered as a voter. But since we are a government which is characterised by respect for the law, for our institutions and above all for human life, we allowed him to exercise his right and duty of citizenship”.

Dhlakama registered with a mobile voter registration brigade in Gorongosa district on 8 May. Far from clashing with the Renamo forces, the police accompanying the brigade and Dhlakama's bodyguards embraced.

For his part, the head of the Renamo delegation, senior parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana, said Renamo had gone to the dialogue meeting with a desire to end the discussion on the terms of reference for the foreign observers.

“But the atmosphere was not good”, he claimed. “Deadlock continues, and the government is refusing to withdraw its armed forces in Gorongosa. This shows that the government plans to continue military actions against president Afonso Dhlakama to prevent him for leaving and preparing for the elections”.

For Macuiana, keeping troops in Gorongosa “is not a good path towards solving the problem”.

On the other hand, the Mozambican observers at the meeting remained upbeat about the prospects for agreement on the terms of reference.

“We think that the parties are very close to reaching agreement on the mission of the foreign observers”, said Rev Anastácio Chembeze, of the Methodist church.

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