Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo, on Tuesday announced that Renamo will cease its military attacks for the next week.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, which he addressed by telephone from his military headquarters in the central district of Gorongosa, Dhlakama said the truce will begin at midnight on Tuesday and will last for the next seven days,
He claimed that this “provisional truce” was his own initiative taken after a phone conversation on Monday with President Filipe Nyusi. Dhlakama said he understood that Mozambicans want to spend the New Year holiday at peace.
During the truce, Renamo units will not leave their bases, he said. He stressed that he had already sent the order out to Renamo commanders, and guaranteed that his orders would be obeyed. Citizens could therefore move around the country without fear of attack.
“I want to guarantee that the Renamo forces will carry out their orders”, Dhlakama said. There would be no further attacks against vehicles on the roads, or against government positions.
“Any attack that does occur is by somebody else, not by Renamo”, he added.
Dhlakama said that, as long as there was no “incident” with the government forces, the truce could be prolonged, which would also provide a favourable environment for further negotiations between the government and Renamo.
Nyusi told reporters on Monday of his phone conversation with Dhlakama. He said the call was “to wish each other Happy Holidays. But, as always, this type of contact must be exploited to the maximum. We took the opportunity to speak at length about the question of peace”.
Nyusi did not announce the truce, but said he would allow Dhlakama to give his own version of what the two men talked about. “Perhaps we'll leave it so that the Renamo president can say what we talked about, but it was an interesting conversation. When we speak, it is always good, to find solutions, even if they are provisional, temporary, but this always sends a signal of hope for the entire country”.
Dhlakama told the press conference he wanted the dialogue between the government and Renamo to resume as quickly as possible after the New Year holiday, so that everything the two sides have been discussing sporadically in a Joint Commission under international mediation can be concluded.
The main item under debate has been decentralization - by which Renamo means seizing control of the six provinces where it claims, untruthfully, to have won the 2014 general elections. Dhlakama is also insisting on “restructuring” the Mozambican armed forces (FADM), including the inclusion of Renamo figures in senior positions in the military hierarchy.
He seems unaware that some of the top positions in the FADM, including that of Deputy Chief of Staff, are already held by people who were once Renamo officers, and who joined the FADM at the time of its formation in 1994.
Dhlakama is also demanding senior positions for his men in the police force and in the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE).
He claimed that such reforms would allow “future elections, both municipal and presidential, to be he held in a good environment, which would mean democratizing Mozambique”.
Renamo has always lost general elections in Mozambique, and boycotted the most recent (2013) municipal elections. It has explained away its defeats as the result of alleged fraud.
Despite the truce, Dhlakama has no intention of leaving his camp in the Gorongosa bush. He claimed the security conditions do not yet exist for him to appear in public and undertake normal political activities.