8 March 2016

Mozambique: Dhlakama Refuses Nyusi's Offer of Talks

Photo: VOA
Former President Armando Guebuza and opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama ratifying a peace deal (file photo)

Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo, has once again refused the offer of unconditional talks made by President Filipe Nyusi.

According to a report in the independent daily “O Pais”, Renamo replied on Monday to Nyusi's latest offer, and once again demanded the presence of foreign mediators in any future dialogue. Dhlakama wants any such talks mediated by the Catholic Church, the European Union and South African President Jacob Zuma,

Dhlakama claimed that he had contacted all three and had received favourable responses. However, there can be no doubt that neither the European Union nor the South African government would agree to a mediating role without an explicit request from both sides to the conflict.

Nyusi has appointed a team to prepare the meeting with Dhlakama, consisting of former security minister Jacinto Veloso, former justice minister Benwinda Levi, and a member of the presidential staff, Alves Muteque. In his letter to Dhlakama, Nyusi asked the Renamo leader to appoint, as quickly as possible, a preparatory team from the Renamo side.

Dhlakama has again refused. He said that he would only name his team once the foreign mediators were accredited.

“Once the accreditation of the proposed mediators has been accepted, the Renamo presidency will immediately present the list of members who will join the government team”, Dhlakama wrote.

He claimed that accrediting foreign mediators was fundamental “in order to avoid the events of the past”. It would show that the government was “committed to peace and national reconciliation”.

The government, however, has always stated that it sees no reason to call in foreign mediators to deal with a dispute between Mozambicans. In the dialogue between the government and Renamo, which ran from April 2013 to August 2015 (when Dhlakama unilaterally suspended it), there were Mozambican mediators - namely prominent academic Lourenco do Rosario, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane, Catholic priest Filipe Couto, Methodist pastor Anastacio Chembeze, and Moslem cleric Sheikh Saide Abibo. But Renamo unilaterally sacked these mediators.

Meanwhile, Attorney-General Beatriz Buchili has confirmed that her office intends to prosecute those responsible for the string of armed attacks by Renamo gunmen in the centre of the country. Speaking in Luanda on Monday, during a working visit to Angola, Buchili said “all the attacks are being investigated”, and case files have been opened.

Since the attacks were crimes, her office had the duty to intervene and prosecute.

Within the ruling Frelimo Party there is a growing feeling that the current situation, whereby Renamo has both a parliamentary group making laws in Maputo, and an armed militia killing and burning in the central provinces, is no longer tenable.

In the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, during debates last week, several Frelimo deputies suggested that Renamo be outlawed.

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