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Published On: Mon, Aug 7th, 2017

Nyusi and Dhlakama hold first meeting since 2015: EU congratulates Mozambican leaders

nsnbc : Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama met on Sunday for the fist time since 2015. Both leaders, their respective parties, Frelimo and Renamo, as well as the European Union agree that the direct meeting is a major step toward stability, peace and peaceful and transparent elections in 2019.

Felipe Nyusi_Alfornso Dhlakama_Mozambique_Aug 6, 2017Nyusi and Dhlakama met in the remote Gorongosa mountains where Renamo leader Alfornso Dhlakama retreated in October 2015, along with some 800 members of Renamo’s armed wing, demanding a greater share of power. Renamo began rebuilding its armed wing after the discovery of major natural gas reserves in 2012. The Mozambican Presidency released a statement saying “The two leaders discussed and agreed on the next steps in the peace process, which they hope to be completed by the end of the year.”

The two leaders last got together in 2015, before Dhlakama fled into the mountains where he is awaiting the elections set for 2019. Dhlakama’s Renamo is both a legal political party as well as an illegal armed insurgent group that led a 16-year rebellion and an opposition political party that took up arms again in 2013.

Clashes between the ruling Frelimo party government and Renamo last year revived the specter of Mozambique’s civil war that ended more than 20 years ago. Renamo members, who hold seats in parliament, have called for greater decentralisation of the state and better integration of their people into the police and military. Dhlakama declared a unilateral ceasefire in 2016, which he prolonged indefinitely in May.

Renamo fighters (archives)

Renamo fighters (archives)

Mozambique is still recovering from its bloody 1976-1992 civil war when one million people died during years of sporadic fighting between Frelimo and Renamo. The more recent fighting has often focused on Mozambique’s main roads, with Renamo attacking government convoys and civilian vehicles, and soldiers ruthlessly targeting suspected Renamo rebels in nearby villagers.

The death toll is unknown but scores of people are reported to have been killed in 2016, with both the Frelimo and Renamo parties also suffering assassinations of local politicians.

European countries played crucial roles in brokering the 1992 ceasefire that resulted in the end of the 16-year-long civil war in 1993. Following the meeting between Nyusi and Dhlakama the European Union (EU) issued a statement saying that the meeting was another important step in building mutual confidence.

The EU congratulated the leaders and encouraged both parties to work towards an agreement by the end of the year so that the elections in 2018 and 2019 can take place in a climate of trust and peace. The EU noted that it continues to stand ready to support the Mozambican people and the peace process.

F/AK – nsnbc 07.08.2017

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