Maputo — A further stage in the demobilisation and disarming of the militia loyal to Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, began on Monday in the central province of Sofala.
According to a report in the independent daily "O Pais", 366 guerrillas stationed at Renamo bases in Maringue, Cheringoma and Chemba districts will be demobilised.
On Monday 173 militiamen in Cheringoma passed into civilian life, but they will only hand their weapons over on Wednesday.
There are 43 armed men at the Chemba base, and their demobilisation should end on 24 October. The Maringue base still houses 145 guerrillas. Their demobilisation is scheduled to begin on 25 October and end on 1 November. The guns from each base should be handed over to the authorities shortly before the former guerrillas leave for their original homes or anywhere else in the country where they wish to settle.
At the Monday ceremony in Cheringoma, the Renamo General Secretary, André Magibire, told the former guerrillas "the war has finally come to an end", and now was the time for all the militiamen to return to civilian life.
"This fact doesn't mean that your bond with Renamo is now over", Majibire added. "We are just saying that from now on you will make politics without guns in your hand. Our greatest hope is that you will be received as true brothers in the communities where you will now live".
The government representative on the commission handling the demobilisation, Eugenio Mussa, guaranteed that "President Filipe Nyusi will do everything to ensure this process continues in the best possible way. The government is committed to peace and national reconciliation, and so we are inviting the former guerrillas and the Renamo leadership also to commit to this process, to ensure that the country finds an effective peace".
On three previous occasions this year, Renamo bases were dismantled, all in Sofala, and their guerrillas demobilised. 305 guerrillas returned to civilian life in Savane, 251 in Muxungue and 384 in Vanduzi.
The main problem remains that the dissidents who set up the "Renamo Military Junta" are boycotting the demobilisation, and are continuing murderous ambushes against vehicles travelling along the main roads in Sofala and the neighbouring province of Manica
The head of the Junta, Mariano Nhongo, has rejected pleas from President Filipe Nyusi and from Renamo leader Ossufo Momade to join the demobilisation.