5 March 2016

Mozambique: Nyusi Appoints Team to Prepare Meeting With Dhlakama

Photo: DW
Afonso Dhlakama

Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has once again invited Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the rebel movement Renamo to resume dialogue to secure a lasting peace.

A statement issued by Nyusi's office on Friday night, said this new invitation was in compliance with decisions taken by the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS). The CNDS, a consultative body that advises the President on defence and security matters, met in Maputo on 24 February, and backed a face-to-face meeting between Nyusi and Dhlakama. The CNDS called for measures to “strengthen” Nyusi's invitation to Dhlakama.

Thus this time Nyusi has announced a three member delegation to prepare the meeting. This delegation consists of CNDS member and former Security Minister Jacinto Veloso, former Justice Minister Benvinda Levi, who is now an advisor to Nyusi on legal matters, and Alves Muteque, an official in the president's office.

In the letter to Dhlakama, Nyusi asked Renamo to appoint, as quickly as possible, its own team to prepare the meeting.

The last time Nyusi and Dhlakama met was in February 2015, shortly after Nyusi had been inaugurated as President. Since then Dhlakama has flatly rejected all invitations for a further meeting. Last August Dhlakama also unilaterally suspended the dialogue between Renamo and the government that had been under way since April 2013.

While Nyusi says that no conditions should be placed on talks, Dhlakama has demanded several pre-conditions. In addition to guarantees for his personal security these include the presence of mediators - namely the Catholic Church, South African President Jacob Zuma, and the European Union. However, the government has repeatedly stressed that there is no need to involve foreign mediators in a dispute between Mozambicans.

At the end of February, Dhlakama put a quite impossible condition on resuming dialogue. He declared that any future dialogue is dependent on Renamo first taking power in the six central and northern provinces which it claims (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa).

Dhlakama has repeatedly announced that Renamo will govern these provinces as from March. But in the first week of March there has been no sign whatever of any “Renamo government”.

Instead, Renamo has resorted to ambushing vehicles on the main roads. This has obliged vehicles using the main north-south highway in the central province of Sofala, to travel in convoy under armed escort along the two most dangerous stretches (between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue, and between Nhamapadza, in Maringue district, and Caia on the south bank of the Zambezi).

Renamo's return to violence has stretched the patience of the ruling Frelimo Party almost to breaking point. In debates this week in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, several Frelimo deputies suggested that Renamo should be outlawed, and the government should end the subsidy that Renamo enjoys by virtue of the parliamentary seats it holds.

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