18 April 2017

Mozambique: Religious Body Proposes 'Peace Summit' in Beira

Maputo — A little known religious group, calling itself the Platform for Prophetic Mission and Revival, on Tuesday declared that it is organizing what it calls the “first national summit on peace and national reconciliation” in the central Mozambican city of Beira.

The Platform's coordinator, Artemisa Franco, after an audience with the chairperson of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Veronica Macamo, told reporters that the organization is still making contacts that will determine the dates of the summit.

“We would like to count on the participation of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama”, she said, “and on the programme we have drawn up, he is one of the panelists. The objective is to share the vision of the Renamo leader about the future of Mozambique without violence”.

The Platform was founded last November and it launched, on 22 December, a “peace and national reconciliation campaign”, which prayed for a truce so that Mozambicans could spend the Christmas and New Year holiday without the sound of gunfire.

She attributed the truce that Dhlakama declared on 26 December to the power of this prayer campaign - though there is no evidence that Dhlakama had ever heard of the Platform, let alone responded to its prayers.

In reality, the truce involved no divine intervention, but merely phone calls between Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi. The truce, initially for a week, took effect on 27 December, and was subsequently extended. It will now run to early May, and it is generally expected that it will be renewed again.

For her part, Macamo praised all efforts aimed at achieving peace and reconciliation. “There is no society which develops without peace and harmony”, she said. “We want our lives to improve. Political party affiliations should not be a reason for disunity, because people are more important than political parties”.

She promised that the Platform's initiative will continue to merit the attention of the Assembly, particularly its working commission on social matters.

Franco declared that the proposed peace and reconciliation summit is part of a broader programme to be held under the motto “praying together for a Mozambique that is for peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, divine and spiritual cure, unity of the nation and definitive ceasefire”.

Franco said nothing about how the summit in Beira will be financed. Organising a meeting on a scale large enough to be called a summit is a major undertaking, and money must be raised for such items as accommodation, meals and air fares.

Franco was once a human rights activist, and headed a body called “Human Rights and Development” (DHD), widely regarded as a rival to the main NGO in this area, the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH). However, DHD appears to have collapsed and there has been no sign of DHD activity for many years.

In 2007, DHD was already a dormant body, but it nominated Franco for one of the places reserved for civil society on the National Elections Commission (CNE). She served on the CNE for the ensuing five years.

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