Maputo — Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano said on Tuesday there is no reason to believe that the current dissent within the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, will threaten the holding of general elections in October.
A group of Renamo guerrillas has demanded the resignation of the party's leader, Ossufo Momade, and has even threatened to kill him if he does not stand down. The Renamo leadership has dismissed the dissidents as a handful of "deserters".
Speaking at a "High Level Dialogue on Democracy and Development in Mozambique" in Maputo, organised by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and his own Foundation, Chissano did not see why an armed dissident group in the bush should cause elections to be postponed.
He noted that in the past "the country held elections when a much larger number of people were under arms".
Desertion was not a new phenomenon. During the liberation struggle waged by Frelimo, Chissano said, "we also had deserters. They joined the ranks of Portuguese colonialism, but this did not stop us from achieving our goals".
He hoped that, in Renamo too, deserters would not prevent the organisation "from continuing with the goal of the effective pacification of our country".
Even if Renamo were to disarm completely, there would still be cases of armed individuals outside of Renamo's control, and of guns "in the hands of people whom we don't know".
Chissano expressed concern at the terrorist raids in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, not only because of the loss of life and destruction of property, but because nobody knows the real causes of the insurgency, said to be inspired by Islamic fundamentalism.
"The question that concerns all of us is the motives behind these incursions", said the former President. "I would like to know who these insurgents are, and who is giving them their orders".