Dhlakam refuses to end Renamo attacks

Maputo (AIM) –Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo, on Friday declared he was pleased that President Filipe Nyusi now accepts the presence of foreign mediators in talks between the government and Renamo, but he flatly refused to order an end to the Renamo attacks against road and rail transport in the central provinces.

Source: Dhlakam refuses to end Renamo attacks – The Zimbabwean 19.6.2016

Speaking to reporters by telephone from his bush headquarters, believed to be in the Satunjira region in the central district of Gorongosa, Dhlakama gave no commitment to any definitive date for a meeting between himself and Nyusi.

Instead he said dialogue should continue in the joint commission set up between the government and Renamo. Currently there are six members of this commission, three appointed by the government and three by Renamo. But Dhlakama now wants to double the Commission, by adding three more members to each side.

On Thursday, at a rally in the southern city of Matola, Nyusi abandoned the government’s longstanding opposition to foreign mediation in talks with Renamo. “If the problem is to have somebody else present while we are discussing, then let Dhlakama come with whoever he likes, and we will talk so that he ends the attacks”, said Nyusi. “Let him come with these people, and we shall see what will happen. I am ready”.

Dhlakama said he was pleased, because the government had previously rejected the presence of mediators. He claimed that he had talked with Nyusi by phone on Wednesday and Thursday “about the politico-military conflict in our country, and we reached an agreement that guns do not solve anything”.

But Dhlakama will not order the Renamo guns to fall silent. Instead, he demanded that the government must stop attacking his forces. The government, however, claims it does not launch such attacks. Nyusi himself has publicly stated that he has given orders to the government forces not to take the offensive against Renamo bases, but merely to defend the public against Renamo attack.

Dhlakama said discussions in the presence of foreign mediators could start next week, and he reiterated that Renamo’s preferred mediators are the Catholic Church, the European Union and the South African government.

He stressed that the joint commission had reached consensus on the agenda for the Nyusi/Dhlakama meeting. The agenda includes Renamo’s demand to govern in the six provinces where it claims to have won a majority of votes in the October 2014 general elections. That demand was “irreversible”, Dhlakama declared.

It is also false, since Renamo did not win in six provinces. Dhlakama topped the presidential poll in five provinces – Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambezia and Nampula. But Renamo only won the parliamentary vote in two provinces, Sofala and Zambezia. As for the sixth province claimed by Dhlakama, Niassa, in reality the ruling Frelimo Party won both the presidential and the parliamentary poll here.

The other point Renamo put on the agenda is the composition of the defence and security forces. It has long demanded that senior positions in the FADM (armed forces) should be shared out between itself and the government.

The points the government put on the agenda are a halt to all Renamo armed attacks, and the disarming of the Renamo militia.

Dhlakama claimed that he would rather live in the city than in the bus. “We want to negotiate seriously”, he claimed. “I wasn’t born to stay in the bush, to be bombed and hunted like an animal. I have a family, I have children, I have grandchildren. I want to be in the city playing with my grandchildren. I want to drive a car and go to the beach at the weekends”.