Mozambique: PGR Questions Elias Dhlakama

Maputo — The Mozambican Attorney-General's Office (PGR) on Tuesday questioned Elias Dhlakama, a parliamentary deputy for the main opposition party, Renamo, about alleged links with the dissident "Renamo Military Junta", which has been ambushing vehicles on major roads in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala.

Elias Dhlakama is the younger brother of the late Afonso Dhlakama, who led Renamo from 1979 until his death from diabetes in May 2018. He was one of the Renamo officers who joined the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) after the 1992 peace agreement between the government and Renamo, and rose to the rank of brigadier. He stood, unsuccessfully, for the post of President of Renamo at the party's congress in January 2019.

The claim that Dhlakama, and several other prominent Renamo deputies (including the outgoing head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, and the Renamo national spokesperson, Jose Manteigas) are financing the Military Junta comes from a group of Junta supporters who were detained in Zambezia province in November.

Dhlakama's lawyer, interviewed outside the PGR offices by the independent television station STV, denied that his client had anything to do with the Military Junta.

He stressed that Dhlakama has not been charged with any crime, and said he is merely assisting the PGR in its investigations into the claims made by those arrested in Zambezia.

On Monday, the PGR sent one of the assistant Attorney-Generals, Amabelia Chuquela, to Beira to interview two others alleged to be financing the Junta, the former Renamo General Secretary, Manuel Bissopo, and the former Renamo Beira city delegate, Sandura Ambrosio.

Prosecutors seem to believe that the case against Ambrosio is stronger than that against the others, for he is the only one who has been detained. It is not yet known what evidence there is against Ambrosio other than the claims by the Zambezia group.

Ambrosio is no longer even a member of Renamo. When he lost his position as Beira city delegate in 2019, he defected from Renamo and joined the second opposition force, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).

Unlike Ambrosio, Bissopo is at liberty. Chuquela went to Beira to interview him, because he claimed he did not have the money to travel to PGR headquarters in Maputo.

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