2 July 2014

Mozambique: Guebuza and Dhlakama May Meet This Month, Paper Claims

Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and the leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, Armando Guebuza, could meet within a couple of weeks to announce an end to the current hostilities - but this depends on a series of pre-conditions that have not yet been agreed, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.

Guebuza is currently out of the country, on a state visit to Portugal.

Towards the end of the month, he will attend a summit in East Timor of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP). Mozambique is the outgoing chair of the CPLP.

So in mid-July, it would be possible for Guebuza and Dhlakama to meet and announce a cessation of hostilities.

But this depends on agreeing what will happen to the Renamo gunmen - the government, says “Mediafax”, wants them gathered into assembly points, where they can be controlled. Renamo has yet to accept this.

Renamo also wants the government to offer its “generals” what “Mediafax” coyly refers to as “some economic benefits” - in other words, a bribe to persuade them to stop fighting. The government , the article says, is prepared to make some such accommodation, but is still analyzing the options.

Citing anonymous, “well-placed” sources, familiar with the negotiations, “Mediafax” suggests that Dhlakama also wants Guebuza to make a public statement that, in the event of the opposition winning the general elections scheduled for 15 October, there would be no coup d'etat.

This is a superfluous demand, given that Guebuza, in his oath of office, has already sworn to uphold the constitution. Dhlakama's alleged fear of a coup is ironic, given that it is Renamo and not the government which has resorted to violence to change the political balance in the country.

Supposedly, Dhlakama's belief that a coup might be in the offing also lies behind his demand for a share-out of top military and police posts.

According to “Mediafax” he has recently moderated Renamo's position on this, telling the Mozambican observers to the Renamo-government talks that he does not really want “full parity” in the armed forces (FADM), but the presence of Renamo officers in the main military commands.

Apparently Dhlakama does not trust the officers from Renamo who are already in the FADM. For the FADM results from the merger, in 1994, of government and Renamo forces, and there have always been Renamo officers in the highest ranks of the FADM (including the deputy chief of staff).

The intention of boosting the Renamo presence in the top ranks of the military, Dhlakama supposedly told the observers, is to ensure that the armed forces do not act against Renamo.

A more far-fetched scenario floated by “Mediafax” is that, in order to give Dhlakama the “security guarantees” he says he needs, he could be offered the position of Deputy President of the Republic.

However the Mozambican constitution envisages no such position, and when the constitution was last amended, in 2004, the Renamo parliamentary group did not call for the creation of the post of Deputy President. A parliamentary ad-hoc commission is currently drafting another set of amendments to the Constitution, which should be voted on during the current sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

Renamo has made no input whatever to the debate on the constitution. It has refused to take its seats on the ad-hoc commission, and whenever the commission reports back to the Assembly plenary, the Renamo parliamentary group walks out of the chamber.

Even if a way was found to offer this new post to Dhlakama, would he agree to be Deputy President for just a couple of months prior to the 15 October elections? The “Mediafax” sources believe he would not and that therefore the possibility of postponing the elections is under discussion.

However, the Constitution states categorically that general elections are held every five years. Postponing the elections into 2015 would thus require a constitutional amendment. A postponement would also involve heavy additional costs - for example, another voter registration period would be needed, to register citizens reaching the voting age of 18 next year.

All the 3,000 or so political appointees to the various election commissions and branches of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) would be in place, and receiving wages, for a year longer than initially envisaged, and the political parties would be running a semi-permanent “pre-campaign” from now until the new election date.

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