Mozambique: Military Junta Denies Attacking Vehicles

Maputo — Mariano Nhongo, head of the "Renamo Military Junta", the dissident group in Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has not only denied any connection with the recent ambushes against vehicles in the central province of Sofala, but has accused Renamo leader Ossufo Momade of responsibility.

Interviewed in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", Nhongo said he had "no doubt" that Momade was orchestrating the attacks.

Since mid-August there have been three confirmed ambushes on main roads through Sofala. In the latest incident, a week ago, gunmen opened fire on four vehicles near the Pungue river, on the border between Gorongosa and Nhamatanda districts. Nobody was killed, but five of the vehicles' occupants suffered serious injuries.

The Junta could not possibly have organised the attacks, Nhongo claimed, since it is committed to finding a solution to the conflict through a meeting between the government and what he called "the true armed wing of Renamo".

Nhongo said that next Monday he will send a letter to the government, explaining the main concerns of the group.

He insisted that Momade is "a traitor" who has betrayed not only Renamo, but also the understandings that Momade's predecessor, Afonso Dhlakama, had reached with President Filipe Nyusi.

"The Military Junta is not attacking the population", claimed Nhongo. "We don't want war. We want to live in peace. This is the work of the men of Ossufo Momade. Ossufo is creating this confusion so that people think the Military Junta is attacking".

Nhongo, who has proclaimed himself the President of Renamo, also alleged that Momade "has sent his men to kill me".

It is not known how many of Renamo's militia are following Nhongo and how many have remained loyal to Momade.

What seems certain is that the demobilisation and disarming of Renamo has slowed to a snail's pace. The first 50 Renamo fighters were demobilised at the main Renamo base in Gorongosa district on 29 July. Since then no further demobilisation has been publicly announced.

Under the terms of the agreement between Nyusi and Momade, all Renamo military bases should have been dismantled by 21 August. But to date not a single base has been publicly dismantled.

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