Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday called on the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) to show "flexibility" with the aim of "guaranteeing the full exercise of the sovereign rights of Mozambicans, through the creation of an environment favourable to an effective peace".
"Capacity to adapt to historic moments must always be present and rooted at all levels of the armed forces, in their structure, in their doctrine and above all in their mentality", said Nyusi, speaking at a ceremony in the General Staff headquarters in Maputo, at which military medals were awarded to several dozen senior officers.
The ceremony was part of the celebrations of the 53rd anniversary of the launching, on 25 September 1964, of the armed struggle to free Mozambique from Portuguese colonial rule.
"Our objective", Nyusi declared, "is to attain an effective peace, free of any kind of conditions, and above all, a lasting peace. As you know, from this process it will be necessary to take some measures in which the armed forces will be the main actors".
He was thus obliquely referring to the negotiations between the government and the Renamo rebels, and the demand by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama for the inclusion of what he calls his "commandos" in senior positions in the armed forces and police.
Nyusi called for "your self-discipline, perspicacity, agility, and capacity for adaptation, grounded in high standards of readiness for all situations, even if, at times, tactical objectives are sacrificed for the full attainment of strategic designs".
The coming period would see "processes necessary to establish, organize and coordinate new actions, in a different chessboard in the constitution of the armed forces".
Nyusi thus warned that the FADM is going to change, though he did not spell out exactly how. For the negotiations with Renamo are continuing, and their outcome is not yet clear - particularly how many Renamo officers will be incorporated into the army as the price for disarming the Renamo militia.
Nyusi was sure, however, that the mission of the FADM will remain "to transmit, with great responsibility, the patriotic gene of our armed forces so that our most sacred values - Independence and Peace - prevail and are sustainable".
"In fact, peace is the ultimate goal of our armed forces and they contribute to it with their professionalism and intelligence in scenarios of different military theatres and political moments", he added.
"In peace, we can prepare the armed forces for new missions such as, for example, the defence of our natural resources", Nyusi said, adding that he was "deeply proud of the fact that the FADM are making their maximum contribution so that the dialogue with the Renamo leader results in the progress which we are all privileged to witness".
The armed forces, he continued, had proved able "to respect and to nurture the dialogue, obeying our instructions as an extension of their attributes and their contribution to the defence of sovereignty and national independence".
At the ceremony, the highest military honour, the "Military Leadership Medal, Gold Class" was awarded to Nyusi himself, for his period as Minister of Defence (2008-2014), to former President Armando Guebua, and to the former chief of staff of the FADM, and now head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), Lagos Lidimo.
Among those awarded the "Military Leadership Medal, Silver Class", was Mateus Ngonhamo, who was once the head of Renamo military intelligence, and served as Lidimo's deputy when the FADM was set up in 1994 out of a merger of volunteers from the previous government army, the FAM/FPLM, and from Renamo.
In all, 77 officers received military medals.