3 June 2014

Mozambique: Renamo Attacks Second Convoy, Threatens to Divide Country

Photo: Renamo
Renamo soldiers at training in the bush (file photo).

Maputo — Gunmen of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo attacked a convoy on Tuesday morning on the country's main north-south highway, killing at least three people, reports the independent television station STV.

The three victims were all travelling in the same bus. Seven other people, including both soldiers and civilians, were injured in the ambush.

This is the second ambush in two days. Both attacks took place near the small town of Muxungue in the central province of Sofala. The 100 kilometre stretch of the main highway between Muxungue and the Save river is now the most dangerous road in the country.

For the past year, the threat of Renamo attack has caused the government to restrict traffic along the Save-Muxungue road to convoys travelling under military escort. For most of May there were no ambushes, following what Renamo called a "unilateral ceasefire" decreed by its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, on 7 May.

But Renamo spokesperson Antonio Muchanga announced the end of the Renamo truce at a Maputo press conference on Monday. "As from today, there are no guarantees of movement", threatened Muchanga. "As from this moment Renamo will not be responsible for what happens on that stretch of road. So we draw the attention of the users of the road to take care in circulating in that region".

Renamo general secretary Manuel Bissopo was just as belligerent as Muchanga. Speaking at a meeting with Renamo supporters in Mutarara district, in the western province of Tete, he revived the old Renamo threat of dividing the country in two.

He said that Renamo would not budge from its demand for a fifty per cent share of the armed forces. At its dialogue with the government, Renamo had achieved "parity" in the electoral bodies, he added, and now it wanted parity in the defence and security forces too.

He was very clear about what "parity" meant. "50 per cent for Frelimo and 50 per cent for Renamo".

If the government refused to split the army in two and give Renamo half, then Renamo "will divide the country in two", he said.

Bissopo was not clear where the line would be drawn in such a division. Similar Renamo threats in the past have involved dividing the country at the Save river, the conventional boundary between central and southern Mozambique. Renamo would give Frelimo the south of the country and keep the rest.

The government has made it repeatedly clear, in its dialogue with Renamo, that there can be no question of sharing out positions in the military or the police on a political party basis.

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