Maputo — NYUSI TO STEP UP FIGHT AGAINST JIHADISTS, WHILE OFFERING RENAMO DISSIDENTS A TRUCE
Maputo, 25 Oct AIM) - Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday pledged that he will strengthen the military command in the war against islamist terrorists in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, while offering a week long truce in the country's second war, against the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta" in Manica and Sofala provinces.
Nyusi visited Cabo Delgado and his helicopter overflew areas devastated by the terrorists in Macomia and Ibo districts. Flying low, Nyusi could see villages burnt by the islamists, and assesss for himself the massive damage done.
He landed in Macomia town to greet units of the defence and security forces stationed there, and speak with members of the public. The defence forces have scored some successes here, driving back a jihadist attack on the town on 14 August.
In the adjacent district of Mocimboa da Praia, the Mozambican forces drove the terrorists out of the small town of Awasse in fighting a week ago. They claimed the deaths of 270 terrorists.
According to a report on the independent television station, STV, Nyusi praised the courage of the forces stationed in Macomia, and encouraged them to pursue the terrorists to the last man.
When local residents spoke to the president, many of them asked to be evacuated to safer areas, thus joining well over 300,000 people who have already fled from the districts under terrorist attack.
Nyusi, however, stressed that the priority is to win the war. He guaranteed that, within a week, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, he would be strengthening the Northern Operational Command, boosting its capacity to hunt down the terrorists.
He also gave that pledge in the provincial capital, Pemba, where he opened a two day retreat on security matters, attended by government ministers, provincial first secretaries of the ruling Frelimo Party, and key Frelimo figures from the Cabo Delgado districts under attack. Some highly experienced veterans of the Mozambican independence war are also attending the retreat.
Here Nyusi also offered a truce to the Renamo Military Junta. He said he will give instructions to the defence and security forces in Manica and Sofala not to pursue forces of the Junta, in order to open space for dialogue
"As from Sunday, I shall instruct the forces in the Central Operational Theatre to stop chasing the men of the Military Junta for a week, so that they can embark on a dialogue to solve their problems".
Those problems are not so much between Junta leader Mariano Nhongo and the government, as between the Junta and the mainstream of Renamo. Nhongo has repeatedly called the current Renamo leader, Ossufo Momade, "a traitor" and has even threatened to kill him.
Nyusi has offered to help overcome the differences within Renamo, but so far Nhongo has rejected all such overtures.
Nyusi clearly draws a sharp distinction between the two conflicts. The war with the Military Junta is a war between Mozambicans that can be solved through negotiation and dialogue, but the government regards the war in Cabo Delgado as driven by foreign aggression, pointing to the involvement of the local jihadists with the international terrorist network that calls itself Islamic State.