Maputo — The National Council of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo will meet in the central city of Beira on Monday, but the party's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, will not be present, reports Friday's issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”.
This will be the first time that Dhlakama has not chaired the National Council. He is still living in a military base somewhere on the slopes of the Gorongosa mountain range, and is refusing to leave until he receives “security guarantees” from the government.
“Mediafax” says there will be four points on the agenda - a discussion of the current political and social situation, a programme for government if Renamo wins the general elections scheduled for 15 October, the ratification and proclamation of a presidential candidate, and approval of reports from the local conferences that are choosing parliamentary and provincial assembly candidates.
No-one seriously doubts that Dhlakama will be proclaimed the Renamo presidential candidate. Without waiting for the formal decision, Renamo members throughout the country have already been collecting the supporting signatures Dhlakama needs for a presidential bid. Every presidential candidate must present at least 10,000 supporting signatures from registered voters, each of them authenticated by a public notary.
One result of the Renamo National Council meeting is that the next round in the long-running dialogue between Renamo and the government, normally held on Mondays at the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre in Maputo, has been postponed.
There was no meeting last Monday because the leaders of the government delegation were not available. Renamo has informed the government that its delegation cannot attend a dialogue session on 23 June, because the members will be at the National Council meeting.
Renamo had wanted a meeting some time this week so that the two delegations could sign what is supposed to be a “final document” from the dialogue, which would allow Dhlakama to leave his hideout (although the government has repeatedly guaranteed that Dhlakama is free to travel wherever he likes). The government repeated that this week its delegation was not available.
Renamo's proposal is that the next dialogue session could be held on Friday or Saturday. If these dates are not acceptable to the government, the meeting will probably be postponed to next Monday, 30 June.
Contacted by “Mediafax”, Renamo spokesperson Antonio Muchanga, said he regretted that the celebrations next Wednesday of the 39th anniversary of Mozambican independence cannot be held in peace - and proceeded to blame the government, although it is Renamo gunmen who are ambushing convoys on the main north-south road, and attacking military vehicles in Gorongosa district.
He claimed, against all the evidence, that Renamo has done all in its power to return peace to Mozambicans “but the other party (i.e. the government) does not have the same flexibility, sensitivity and interest”.