Maputo (AIM) – Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo, on Tuesday announced a two month extension of the truce in Renamo’s insurrection that he had initially declared on 27 December.
Source: Renamo truce extended by two months – The Zimbabwean 04.01.2017
Just as he did in December, this time too President Filipe Nyusi raised the possibility of an extension of the truce, but left it up to Dhlakama to provide details.
At a Maputo press conference on Monday, Nyusi said he had spoken by telephone with Dhlakama, who is still living in a Renamo military base in the central district of Gorongosa. Dhlakama, he added, had taken “a calm and promising stance for the interruption of hostilities”.
Nyusi said the first week of the truce had been positive, with “a climate of tranquility”. On the first day “there was vigilance in the movement of vehicles to guarantee that it was safe”, he added, “which shows that we should return trust to Mozambicans through dialogue”.
Nyusi stressed that Mozambicans want a lasting peace, without ultimatums from either side. Certainly no clashes were reported in the first week of the truce. No vehicles or trains were attacked, and it seems that the Renamo gunmen were indeed confined to their bases, as Dhlakama had promised.
In a press conference held by telephone on Tuesday, Dhlakama confirmed Nyusi’s promise, and announced a 60 day extension of the truce.
He added that reaching an understanding with Nyusi was an attempt to prepare the path so that the political dialogue under way between the government and Renamo will produce fruitful results.
“When I announced the seven day truce last week, I did not rule out the possibility of extending the period, if things went as desired”, said Dhlakama. He claimed there had been “small incidents”, supposedly caused by government forces, particularly in the Gorongosa area.
The 60 day extension will expire on 4 March. Dhlakama hoped that the truce will cut the number of deaths caused by military hostilities.
“From the bottom of my heart, I guarantee that Renamo fighters will not attack the positions of the defence and security forces”, he said, adding that in their phone conversation Nyusi had also promised that the government forces will refrain from attacks. He claimed that this promise of a halt to hostilities also extends to the attacks and kidnappings of Renamo members.
Dhlakama believed that the truce will allow Mozambicans to travel freely throughout the country – particularly along those stretches of road where transport has only been possible in convoys under armed escort.
There are three of these stretches, two of them along parts of the main north-south highway (EN1), as it runs through the central province of Sofala – from the Save river to the small town of Muxungue, and from Nhamapadza to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi. The third is the road from Vanduzi in Manica province to Changara district in Tete. This is part of the main road from the port of Beira to such landlocked countries as Malawi and Zambia.
During the first week of the truce, convoys continued to run along these roads, protected by vehicles of the defence and security forces. Road haulage companies were angered at this precaution, which greatly lengthened journey times, and believed the convoy system should have been lifted as soon as the truce was announced.
By the time the truce expires, the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, will have started its first sitting of 2017. Dhlakama wants the Assembly to pass a package of measures that will allow Renamo to govern the six northern and central provinces where it claims to have won the 2014 general elections.
The Joint Commission formed between Renamo and the government had been discussing a package of legislation on decentralization, but by December, there was no consensus. The international team of mediators facilitating the talks returned to their home countries. Their coordinator, European Union representative Mario Raffaelli, said they would return if they received an express invitation from the Joint Commission.
Dhlakama revived an idea put forward in early December – namely that a small working group should be formed to draft decentralization proposals. He said that the government would appoint two members, Renamo two, and a fifth would be an expert on constitutional law acceptable to both sides.
Renamo has thus abandoned its earlier demand that one or more of the current international mediators should sit on the working group.