No advance on cessation of hostilities

Maputo (AIM) – Despite the optimism shown by international mediators earlier in the week, Wednesday’s round of talks in the Joint Commission set up between the Mozambican government and the Renamo rebels produced no advance towards a cessation of hostilities.

Source: No advance on cessation of hostilities – The Zimbabwean 26.08.2016

The meeting lasted for around seven hours, only ending at 22.00, and during that period Renamo simply refused to halt its attacks unless the government withdrew its forces stationed at the Gorongosa mountain range in the central province of Sofala.

The spokesperson for the mediators, the Italian Mario Raffaelli, told reporters that the government position is “the mission of the defence and security forces is to protect the population and its property, and to allow people to circulate in a climate of peace, harmony and security”.

The government wanted to see an immediate suspension of hostilities which would make it possible to open a corridor in Gorongosa so that the mediators can make their way to the Renamo bush headquarters in the Satunjira area, where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is currently living.

Dhlakama refuses to leave Gorongosa, and so the only contact the mediators have with him so far is by telephone.

The Renamo position, said Raffaelli, is that the rebels “will accept a temporary truce around the Gorongosa mountain range, as long as the government withdraws its forces stationed there”.

But the government has no intention of surrendering territory to the Renamo militia. Raffaelli said the government believes its forces must remain in Gorongosa to protect the local population from Renamo attacks.

During Renamo’s previous insurrection, in 2013-14, parts of Gorongosa were highly contested, and in October 2013 the defence forces overran Dhlakama’s first Satunjira base. This base, and several other Renamo camps were occupied, and government forces are still stationed there. Clearly, if they withdraw, the Renamo militia will simply re-occupy this territory.

Raffaelli promised that on Thursday the mediators will present their proposal for a cessation of hostilities to the press.

The basic outline of this proposal was published earlier in the week by the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, which said the mediators hope to establish a “demilitarized corridor” which would allow the mediating team direct access to Dhlakama.
They wanted to follow this up with a truce, while the Maputo talks continue, and eventually a full ceasefire.

Renamo, however, has signed ceasefires before (in 1992 and 2014), and has always violated them.

The mediators clearly do not expect any improvement in the situation in the immediate future. They, and the government and Renamo delegations, have agreed to suspend the talks for almost three weeks, so that the Joint Commission will not meet again until 12 September


  • comment-avatar
    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    Why not just get on with the talks? – because Frelimo is insincere and just playing for time.