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Published On: Sat, Apr 2nd, 2016

Mozambican Military Presence Reinforced after New Clashes with Renamo

nsnbc : The Mozambican government reinforced the presence of military forces throughout the country after renewed clashes with Renamo and after the March 31 deadline by which Renamo promised to “seize power” in six provinces expired.

Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama during the run-up to the 2015 general elections.

Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama during the run-up to the 2015 general elections.

Clashes erupted already before the 31 March deadline by which Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama had promised to “seize power” in six provinces unless the government meet Renamo’s demands which include guarantees for Dhllakama’s personal security and the presence of South African President Jacob Zuma, a representative of the Catholic Church, and representatives of the European Union as mediators. In late February Dhlakama added the precondition that any future dialog required that Renamo first had taken power in the six central and northern provinces Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Nissa. Renamo suffered a crushing defeat in the 2015 general elections.

On March 24 the village of Mugeba in the administrative post of Murrothone, Mocuba district, Zambezia province, came under fire when clashes erupted between the military  Renamo fighters.

Residents of Murrothone and Canivete fled their homes in to seek refuge in schools and other public buildings. Witnesses reported about hearing rocket and artillery fire in the Caniyete region. Renamo sources reported that clashes began to erupt at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, accusing government special forces of having opened fire from the Canvite market area, some two kilometers from the Murothone Renamo base. Renamo states that the base was attacked with what it assumes to be mortars. Renamo sources report that they launched a counter attack from the rear of the government forces, forcing them to withdraw to the district military headquarters in Mocuba.

Clashes were also reported from Báruè in Manica provinc in late March. On Friday, March 25, Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama issued a communique via his chief of staff Augusto Mateus, saying that Renamo and government forces clashed in the administrative post of Honde, Báruè district, Manica province, on the morning of Tuesday 22 March. Renamo claims that military forces “kidnapped” Joaquim Jacinto, the party’s Báruè district political delegate, in the town of Nyazóni and that his whereabouts remain unknown. In a statement Renamo said that Renamo “assumes that he has been murdered”. Clashes also erupted in Sofala province where government military forced launched an attack against a Renamo base.

In early March the office of President Felipe Nyusi invited Dhlakama to face to face talks to resume talks and to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. The office of the presidency issued a statement, saying that the new invitation of Renamo and Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama to face to face talks was in compliance with decisions made by the National Defense and Security Council (CNDS) of Mozambique. The CNDS met in the capital Maputo on February 24 and supported a “face to face meeting” between President Felipe Nyusi and Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama.

In the statement, Nyusi announced that a three member delegation was to prepare the meeting. This delegation consists of CNDS member and former Security Minister Jacinto Veloso, former Justice Minister Benvinda Levi, who is an advisor to Nyusi on legal matters, and Alves Muteque, an official in the presidential office.

Nyusi has reportedly styled a letter to Dhlakama, asking the Renamo leader to appoint, as quickly as possible, Dhlakama’s and Renamo’s own delegation to make preparations for the meeting. The last time that Nyusi and Dhlakama met was in February 2015, not long after Nyusi was inaugurated as President. Dhlakama has since then rejected all invitations and unilaterally suspended the dialog between the Frelimo government and Renamo. While Renamo is represented in parliament as a legal opposition party, it maintains an armed force in violation of the Mozambican constitution and Mozambican law.

Renamo began recalling former fighters and to recruit new fighters in 2012 – 13 after studies showed that Mozambique was poised to become the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas by 2020. Dhlakama and Renamo demanded, among others “a fair cut of coal and gas revenue”.

Many of the Renamo fighters who did not return to a civilian life after the end of the civil war in 1992 -93 or who did not register to become part of the Mozambican military, have since then financed their livelihood and the insurgency by poaching, highway robberies, as well as high-profile kidnapping. The government has since 2013 reiterated that it would welcome former Renamo fighters among the armed forces of Mozambique or help them reintegrate into civilian society.

Dhlakama’s unwillingness to return to the negotiating table and Renamo’s increased violence has worn out the patience of many members of the governing Frelimo party. Several Frelimo legislators demanded in parliamentary sessions that Renamo either limit its activities to political and peaceful means and return to the negotiating table, or that the party be declared illegal. The latter would imply that Renamo would lose the government subsidies for its members of parliament.

Renamo’s insurgency has since 2013 displaced an estimated 6,000 people from the northern provinces who fled to neighboring Malawi. Others were displaced when Renamo attempted to re-open its base in Inhambane, where hundreds fled in horror, remembering massacres committed by Renamo during the 16-year-long civil war that ended in 1992 – 93. While Renamo does not have the capacity to “seize power” in any of Mozambique’s provinces, it has the capacity to create sufficed instability and human suffering to justify its call for “international intervention” in the country’s domestic affairs.

CH/L – nsnbc 02.04.2016

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