Maputo — Ossufo Momade, leader of Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, declared on Thursday that the demobilisation of the Renamo militia is going ahead at a satisfactory pace.
He told a Maputo press conference that he is pleased by the commitment shown by the government in the demobilisation and disarming of the militia, and the integration of its members into Mozambican society (a process known by the acronym DDR).
"We note with satisfaction that the implementation of DDR is taking place at an encouraging pace, and we expect that the demobilisation and reintegration of our fighters for democracy will continue in a speedy, decent and humanised way", Momade said.
It has certainly not been speedy so far. DDR began on 29 July 2019 at Satunjira, in the central district of Gorongosa, at which some 50 former guerrillas handed over their weapons and returned to normal life.
But there was then a hiatus of ten months, and it was not until 4 June that DDR resumed with the demobilisation of a further 38 Renamo fighters, who had been stationed at a base in Dondo, in Sofala province.
On 15 July, another 251 men were demobilised, and a second base, at Muxungue, also in Sofala, was dismantled.
Momade claimed that to date 500 Renamo militiamen have been demobilised, which is about ten per cent of the total number of Renamo men under arms. The figure is virtually identical with that given on 15 July by Mirko Manzoni, the chairperson of the international contact group set up to facilitate the dialogue between the government and Renamo.
Momade said demobilising the rest of what are known euphemistically as Renamo's "residual forces" would be a major challenge due to what he regarded as the inherent complexity of the process.
"Renamo's commitment is to keep the peace and promote national reconciliation", he said. "So these combatants should be received and respected as Mozambicans with equal rights and duties".
Momade regarded this as an "indispensable condition for the consolidation of democracy and peace in our country".
He also urged "deserters" from Renamo to join the efforts to seek peace. The DDR is still at an early stage, and they could take part. He was referring to the dissident faction calling itself the "Renamo Military Junta", which has denounced Momade as "a traitor" and rejects the peace agreement he signed with President Filipe Nyusi in August 2019.
"Once again I take this opportunity to call on those combatants who left the bases in an undisciplined manner, in order to wage an unjustifiable and senseless war, to see reason and join the DDR process", Momade said.