Mozambique Government, Renamo teams meet after Dhlakama drops mediation demand

MAPUTO, May 25 (ANA) – Talks between the Mozambican government and the Renamo rebel movement resumed in Maputo on Wednesday, after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama dropped his demand for mediation by the Catholic Church, the European Union and South African President Jacob Zuma.

The Wednesday meeting, held behind closed doors at the headquarters of the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), was to prepare a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Dhlakama. The two men have not met since February 2015.

A dialogue between the government and Renamo had been under way, with precious few results, since April 2013, but was unilaterally suspended by Dhlakama in August last year.

In March, the government announced it was setting up a team to prepare the Nyusi-Dhlakama meeting, consisting of former security minister Jacinto Veloso, former justice minister Benvinda Levy (now an advisor to Nyusi), and an official in the President’s office, Alves Mutuque.

The government asked Renamo to appoint a team too. But Dhlakama refused, and instead imposed a series of pre-conditions, the most notable of which was the demand for international mediation.

The government rejected this proposal, on the grounds that foreign mediators were unnecessary in a conflict between Mozambicans.
At most, mediation could be considered after Nyusi and Dhlakama had met face to face.

Last week, Dhlakama’s objections suddenly vanished. With no explanation for the volte-face, he dropped all pre-conditions, and appointed a team of three Renamo members of parliament to negotiate with the government team.

After the Wednesday meeting no member of either team spoke to the press. Instead it was promised that the conclusions of the meeting would be issued in the form of a press release.

Meanwhile, Renamo attacks on the main roads in the central provinces were continuing, despite the talks. There were two attacks on Monday against convoys using the main north-south highway in Sofala province, in which one person was killed and eight injured.

Nyusi himself said last Saturday that the defence and security forces were under instructions not to take the offensive.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of his visit to China, Nyusi said the government’s response to the latest attacks was “to urge the defence and security forces to remain calm, not to rise to provocation, but to defend the people and protect the convoys on the roads”.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Disclaimer: This story is pulled directly from the African News Agency wire, and has not been edited by Mail & Guardian staff. The M&G does not accept responsibility for errors in any statement, quote or extract that may be contained therein.

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