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Published On: Wed, Dec 28th, 2016

Mozambique’s Renamo Agrees to 7-Day New Year Ceasefire

nsnbc : Alfonso Dhlakama, the president of Mozambique’s opposition party and illegal insurgency Renamo, announced on Tuesday that his part had agreed to a 7-day ceasefire after a talk with Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi, so everybody could enjoy New Year festivities.

Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama during the run-up to the 2015 general elections. Near one of his "allegedly secret" bush headquarters.

Renamo president Alfonso Dhlakama during the run-up to the 2015 general elections. Near one of his “allegedly secret” bush headquarters.

Renamo and the ruling Frelimo parties have been mortal enemies Mozambican civil war 1976 to 1992. A peace accord was eventually reached in 1992 and most hostilities ceased in 1993. Although, Renamo has always maintained a small number of armed insurgents. many of them have become notorious for poaching and small-scale attacks on undefended villagers.

Dhlakama decided to rebuild Renamo’s insurgency in 2012 after the discovery of major oil and gas resources and after it became clear that Mozambique was poised to become the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the early 2020s. Initially, Dhlakama demanded “a fair cut of the gas revenues”.

Since then, Renamo has repeated its claim that Frelimo hadn’t adhered to the 1992 peace accord. One of the main claims is that the Frelimo government hadn’t allowed Renamo to fulfill its quota with regard to members of the armed forces.

The peace accord stipulated that the countries main parties, Frelimo and Renamo, could each designate 15,000 troops for building the armed forces. Frelimo responded by documenting that Renamo never had sent 15,000 personnel.

Renamo then claimed it hadn’t used its quota because it hadn’t been granted a sufficient number of positions for officers. Frelimo for its part, responded, saying that Renamo should have sent its troops immediately instead of waiting for years, and that the military promoted troops according to their merit, not according to party membership.

Renamo suffered a serious defeat on provincial, parliamentary and presidential levels during the last general elections. International observers approved the elections, stressing that there only had been isolated incidents of violence, caused by Renamo sympathizers and no election fraud, as claimed by Renamo.

In late 2015 – early 2016 Renamo demanded that it be “granted” governor positions in six provinces – regardless of the fact that this would be “extra-electoral” and disenfranchise the over 30 other parties who participated in the elections.  The administration of President Felipe Nyusi responded by calling an end to violence and by showing willingness to consider how such a move could be implemented, legally and constitutionally. Nyusi suggested among others that it might be “possible” but that the authorities of regional governor would have to be limited.

Frelimo MPs in parliament willing to discuss constitutional change as long as discussions are peaceful.

Frelimo MPs in parliament willing to discuss constitutional change as long as discussions are peaceful.

Earlier this month Members of Parliament of the ruling Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo), announced that the party and its MPs were open to discuss the decentralization of government in the country even if it implies constitutional changes, provided that there was a calm debate on the issue. 

On Tuesday, Alfonso Dhlakama, who is again in more or less publicly know hiding in one of his fabled “bush headquarters” issued a statement, saying: “I announce the provisional cessation of military hostilities across the country as from midnight Tuesday. .. I took the initiative, I called the President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, and gave him the possibility to offer this provisional truce.”

Internationally mediated peace talks collapsed earlier this month but Dhlakama said that he was willing to continue to dialogue with Nyusi following Monday’s “productive telephone call”.

Some observers noted that Dhlakama and Renamo may also have been inspired by the fact that Zimbabwe deployed troops along its border to Mozambique to stop cross-border transgressions of marauding Renamo insurgents.

Yet others, especially members of Mozambique’s many smaller parties support Frelimo and the government in stressing that there only can be one legal military force in the country, and that Renamo, sooner, rather than later, would have to decide whether it wants to continue its existence as legal political party that has members in parliament, or if it prefers to end its semi-legal status and become an outlawed insurgency.

President Felipe Nyusi, for his part, told reporters on Monday that he was “encouraged” by the conversation with Dhlakama and he described the provisional ceasefire as a “sign of hope for the whole country”.

CH/L – nsnbc 28.12.2016

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