Joint commission reaches consensus on observers

Maputo (AIM) – The joint commission set up by the Mozambican government and by the rebel movement Renamo to prepare a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama proposed on Friday that observers should witness the talks seeking to re-establish effective peace in the country.

Source: Joint commission reaches consensus on observers – The Zimbabwean 19.6.2016

Speaking to reporters after the end of the fifth session of the joint commission, the head of the Renamo team, Jose Manteigas, said there was consensus over the introduction of observers into the dialogue.

“It is the understanding of the joint commission that observers could be invited into this process”, said Manteigas. “There are two figures – the figure of facilitators (mediators), and the figure of observers”.

Up until Thursday the government had opposed involving foreign mediators or observers in a dispute between Mozambicans. But at a rally in the southern city of Matola on Thursday, Nyusi announced the reversal of this policy.

“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”, Nyusi said. “Let him come with these people, and we shall see what will happen. I am ready”, said the President.

Manteigas also held out some hope for an end to Renamo armed attacks against the roads and railways in the central provinces. He said that, in the near future, the joint commission, together with the leaderships on both sides could approve measures for an immediate cessation of military hostilities.

The joint commission, he said, accepted that halting armed activities “is an urgent question”. He was confident that mechanisms would be found for a cessation of hostilities “in the shortest time possible”.

There is already an agreement on the cessation of military hostilities. It was signed on 5 September 2014 by Nyusi’s predecessor, Armando Guebuza, and by Dhlakama. Renamo has been openly violating this agreement since mid-February.

The head of the government team, former Security Minister Jacinto Veloso, said the government is not opposed to mediators, and would leave it up to Renamo to define the role they would play in the talks.

He added that the government believes that Renamo should have ended all its armed actions as soon as the joint commission had begun its work.

Although the joint commission has agreed an agenda for the Nyusi-Dhlakama meeting, there are still divergences over the terms of reference, and so the commission will continue undertaking consultations in an attempt to reach consensus.

The mediators suggested by Renamo are the Catholic Church, the European Union and South African President Jacob Zuma.