Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo plans to evacuate its General Secretary, Manuel Bissopo, seriously injured in an assassination attempt on Wednesday, to South Africa for further medical treatment, reports Friday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.
A light aircraft, hired by Renamo, was parked at Beira airport on Thursday, ready to fly Bissopo to South Africa.
Bissopo should have undergone an operation on Wednesday night to remove a bullet still lodged in his body. But the staff at the private clinic caring for Bissopo said the operation would be extremely delicate, and it did not have the appropriate equipment.
Neither the clinic nor Renamo have said exactly where the bullet is lodged. One Renamo spokesperson told the paper “the bullet can't be moved, otherwise he will die”.
The one place in Beira that does have the capacity to undertake this operation is Beira Central Hospital, one of the largest health units in the country. But Renamo has refused to transfer Bissopo to this public hospital, claiming that the managers of the hospital are linked to the ruling Frelimo Party, and this would be a reason “for them to kill our General Secretary”.
Doctors in the private clinic, however, know very well that their colleagues in the Beira Central Hospital do not carry out political assassinations. They attempted to persuade Renamo and Bissopo's family to have him moved to the hospital. Such pleas were in vain, and Renamo instead opted to fly Bissopo to South Africa.
On Thursday the Sofala Provincial Police Command admitted that it has no clues as to the identity of those who injured Bissopo and killed his bodyguard. The spokesperson for the Sofala police, Daniel Macuacua, said the police are investigating, and the case is in the hands of a joint team from the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), and the provincial attorney's office.
He said the police do not know the identity of the assailants or even how many people mounted the attack. The only evidence found at the scene was three spent cartridges from an AK-47 assault rifle.
Prominent academic Lourenco do Rosario, one of the men who mediated in the now suspended dialogue between Renamo and the government, told reporters he feared the attack on Bissopo could worsen political tensions still further.
“Over recent months there has been a series of ruptures”, said Rosario, “with the radicalization of the positions of the Renamo leader (Afonso Dhlakama), saying that in March he is going to govern by force”.
Nonetheless, “at certain intervals”, Dhlakama had left “room for dialogue” and had even proposed other mediators (the Catholic Church and South African President Jacob Zuma). But Rosario feared that, with the attack on Bissopo, this slight opening might close “and positions will be radicalized still further”.
Acts such as the Wednesday attack, he added, show that “probably there are forces who are not interested in the pacification of the country”.