Maputo (AIM) – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday declared that he is ready and willing to speak to Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Renamo rebels, despite the conditions that Dhlakama is imposing on a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders.
Speaking at a rally in the Machava administrative post, in the southern city of Matola, Nyusi stressed that Mozambicans should not be killed just because somebody is putting conditions on achieving peace.
He noted that a joint commission had been formed with teams appointed by both the government and Renamo. They had reached agreement on points for the agenda, but now Renamo had revived its demand for the presence of foreign mediators or observers.
Nyusi declared that he was willing to accept this demand in order to end the conflict “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”.
“Let him come with these people, and we shall see what will happen. I am ready”, said the President.
Previously the government had said there was no need for foreign mediators to deal with a problem that was exclusively between Mozambicans.
Renamo has repeatedly declared that it wants the European Union, the Catholic Church and South African President Jacob Zuma to mediate in talks.
In the central provinces, he said, schools are closing, people are unable to travel, and some are sleeping in the bush because they fear that otherwise they will be killed. But Renamo continued to see “that we cannot talk without mediators”.
The joint commission has met four times, basically to discuss the agenda for a Nyusi/Dhlakama meeting. Nyusi told the rally he had personally agreed to the two points Renamo wanted on the agenda – namely Renamo’s supposed right to govern the six provinces where it claims to have a won a majority of votes in the October 2014 general election, and the composition of the defence and security forces. Judging from Renamo’s demands in the previous talks, the rebels want a share out of senior positions in the military and the police.
The items which the government put on the agenda for the putative Nyusi-Dhlakama meeting are much simpler – they are an immediate end to all Renamo armed attacks, and the disarming of the Renamo militia.
“I agree with this draft agenda”, said the President, “but when I say let’s advance and reach a conclusion, they appear imposing conditions”.
He pointed out that in Mozambique the basic condition for obtaining power was to win elections. “Mozambique has been praised for respecting this principle of electing its rulers every five years”, he said. “In the world and in Africa there are good experiences of the acceptance of election results, but Mozambique has been denied this”.
Elections had occurred across the southern African region, Nyusi added, in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia and Botswana. In some of these countries there had been complaints about the election results, but nobody had taken up arms because of them – unlike Mozambique where “there are people who disputed the results, decided to take up arms and are attacking defenceless people”.
Thursday was the first day of a presidential visit to Maputo Province. In addition to the Machava rally, Nyusi chaired an extraordinary meeting of the provincial government, and is also scheduled to inaugurate a new Coca-Cola plant.