Maputo — The Mozambican police have detained a former parliamentary deputy of the main opposition party, Renamo, Sandura Ambosio, on charges of conspiracy.
Addressing a Thursday press conference in the central city of Beira, the head of the criminal investigation department in Sofala province, Mario Tamele, announced that the Public Prosecutor's Office has opened a case against Ambrosio, accusing him of conspiring to set up the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta".
The Junta is a breakaway from Renamo, opposed to Ossufo Momade, the party's leader, who was elected at a Renamo congress in January 2019. The Junta's most prominent spokesperson is Mariano Nhongo, who has promoted himself to the rank of general. He describes Momade as "a traitor", and does not recognise the peace agreement signed between Momade and President Filipe Nyusi on 6 August.
The Junta is generally held responsible for the spate of ambushes on the main roads in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala since August, and Nhongo has boasted that he intends to carry out more attacks.
Tamele said the crime of conspiracy of which Ambrosio is accused includes "preparatory acts, recruitment and even indirect attacks - this whole range. At this stage in the investigation, I cannot give you more information about what led to his detention. But it was thought that there was sufficient evidence to justify his detention".
Ambrosio is no longer a member of Renamo, since he defected to the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), in mid-2019.
Ambrosio had been the Renamo political delegate in Beira, but Ossofo Momade was determined to appoint one of his own men to run the party in the city. He sacked Ambrosio, who refused to go, arguing that he was the choice of the Renamo rank and file in Beira.
When the new parliament, arsing from the general elections of 15 October, took office on Monday, Ambrosio lost his parliamentary immunity. He had stood for the Assembly on the MDM ticket, but failed to be elected.
In November, six alleged members of the Military Junta were arrested in Zambezia province, and claimed that a number of prominent figures in Renamo were financing the Junta.
Last week, the Attorney-General's Office (PGR) in Maputo questioned three of those named - the head of the outgoing Renamo parliamentary grup, Ivone Soares, the Renamo national spokesperson Jose Manteigas, and the Renamo candidate for governor of Maputo province, Antonio Muchanga. Soares did not speak to reporters after the interrogation, but both Muchanga and Manteigas denied any connection with the Junta and its attacks.
Asked by AIM about Ambrosio's detention, the spokesperson for the MDM, Sande Carmona, declined to make any comment, claiming that the arrest was "an individual matter".