Mozambique Rebel Leader Afonso Dhlakama Dies

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Afonso Dhlakama

Mozambique rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama died Thursday, according to sources with the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), the country's main opposition party.

Party sources and members of his family told VOA Dhlakama died in the remote mountains of Gorongosa, where he had been since 2013 as periodic conflict resumed in the southern African country.

A cause of death is not yet confirmed, but some sources say it was a heart attack, and others say it was diabetes-related.

Dhlakama led RENAMO for nearly 40 years, including during a 16-year war against the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) that ended in 1992. RENAMO subsequently emerged as an opposition party that continued to retain armed fighters.

He had a series of meetings recently with President Filipe Nyusi and was perceived as playing a significant role in the country's ongoing peace process.

Dhlakama and the government announced a truce in December 2016, an apparent step toward a possible formal peace agreement.

FRELIMO has ruled Mozambique since it gained independence in 1975 from Portugal, which ruled the country for more than four centuries.

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