Mozambique: Assembly Passes Peace Accord Into Law, Mdm Abstains

Renamo faction leader Major General Mariano Nhongo (left), members of the faction at a conference in Gorongosa mountain (top right) and João Machava, spokesman for the faction (bottom right).

Maputo — An extraordinary sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday passed into law the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Maputo on 6 August by President Filipe Nyusi and the leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, Ossufo Momade.

But the call by parliamentary chairperson Veronica Macamo for a vote "by consensus and acclamation", the smallest parliamentary group, that of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), refused to go along with what it regarded as forced unanimity, and abstained.

The Accord was thus passed with 193 deputies from the ruling Frelimo Party and from Renamo voting in favour while 14 MDM deputies abstained.

MDM spokesperson Jose Manuel de Sousa argued that "definitive peace will only be a reality when agreements cease to be a monopoly of two parties (Frelimo and Renamo)". He believed that a "true dialogue will involve all forces in society, and not only political ones, sitting at the same table".

Agreements that were not broad based, would always exclude somebody, he claimed, and thus contained the seeds of future conflict. In this case, Renamo dissidents, who call themselves the "Renamo Military Junta", have rebelled against Momade, labelling him "a traitor", and saying they are not bound by the Peace Accord. The Junta, Sousa insisted, "cannot be ignored".

He regarded the Peace Accord as "rotten", and if any deputies wanted proof of this "they should look to my right", he said. To the right of the rostrum from which Sousa was speaking are the Renamo benches, half of which were empty - no explanation was forthcoming as to why only 52 of the 89 Renamo deputies bothered to attend a session ratifying an agreement their leader had signed.

Frelimo too was concerned at the upheavals inside Renamo. The leader of the Frelimo parliamentary group, Margarida Talapa, said the declarations by the Junta were sowing fear that "the long-awaited peace is under threat".

She urged the Renamo leadership "to do all that is within your power to overcome, on the basis of dialogue, any differences within your ranks".

Mozambicans, she added, "do not want the peace, reconciliation, union and cohesion, which have been so hard won, to be called into question again. We believe that good sense and the capacity to overcome your own differences can and should prevail".

Frelimo, Talapa continued, wanted to see all of Renamo's armed forces demobilised, disarmed and reintegrated into Mozambican society "so that they may use their capacity to work to participate in the creation of wealth for all of our people, as truly free men and women".

But the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, brushed aside the emergence of the Junta as a family quarrel. The Junta are "our brothers who want a reintegration that dignifies them", she claimed

The dispute was "within the family, and Renamo will know how to solve problems inside our own house", she insisted.

The leader of the Junta, Mariano Nhongo, who has declared himself President of Renamo, said on Monday he was instructing Soares to oppose parliamentary ratification of the peace agreement. But if she received such instructions, she simply ignored them.

She also stressed repeatedly that Ossufo Momade is the legitimate leader of Renamo, duly elected at a Renamo Congress in January.

Ominously Soares suggested that, if Renamo does not like the results of the 15 October general elections, then it will disregard the peace agreement. "The success of the agreement does not depend solely on Renamo", she said. "It depends above all on how the government behaves. The success of the agreement will depend on the integrity and transparency of the October elections".

Renamo has claimed that all previous Mozambican elections were fraudulent, despite the reports from local and foreign observer groups giving most of them a fairly clean bill of health.

Wednesday should have been a key date in implementing the peace agreement, since it is the date by which all of Renamo's military bases should have been dismantled. But so far there have been no reports of any bases being shut down, and Soares did not so much as mention the matter. It is likely that some of the bases are in the hands of the Junta.

The demobilisation and disarming of Renamo forces began on 29 January, when just 50 fighters were demobilised in the central district of Gorongosa. There have been no reports of any further demobilisation since then.

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