7. 9. 2014

Agreement on ending histilities signed

Afonso Dhlakama was escorted out of the bush at Gorongosa by five ambassadors and flown to Maputo on Thursday, 4 September. He then met Armando Guebuza on Friday morning and they approved the still-secret cease-fire agreement, which will be ratified by parliament on Monday. Dhlakama will probably launch his presidential campaign in Beira or Chimoio during the coming week. But there is still no agreement on demobilising and disarming Renamo forces and integrating them into the army and police, or on money for Renamo, so lengthy negotiations remain.

Renamo head Afonso Dhaklama's departure from his bush headquarters was set up when he met an Italian delegation in Gorongosa on Saturday 30 August, consisting of deputy economic development minister Carlo Calenda, ambassador Roberto Vellano, and Matteo Zuppi of Sant’Edigio who was one of the mediators of the 4 October 1992 Rome peace accord between Renamo and government. They convinced Dhlakama it was safe to leave.

On Thursday Dhlakama was met in the bush by the ambassadors of Italy, Portugal, the United States and Botswana, and the High Commissioner (ambassador) of the Untied Kingdom, as well as a government security contingent headed by police general Carlos Rungo, in charge of guaranteeing Dhlakama’s safety.

They then drove the 150 km to Chimoio, greeted by cheering crowds along the route. From Chimoio, Dhlakama flew to Maputo Thursday afternoon with the five ambassadors, the Renamo Youth League head Ivone Soares, and about ten Renamo militiamen responsible for Dhlakama's security. He was greeted by cheering crowds at Maputo airport. This was Dhlakama's first time in Maputo in five years.

On Friday morning President Guebuza and Dhlakama met and formally signed the agreement ending the hostilities. Guebuza and Dhlakama left the room hand in hand and went to lunch together; the last time they met, in 2009, Dhlakama turned down a lunch invitation.

Speaking to reporters in Maputo Saturday, Dhlakama said “I don’t know where I will begin the campaign. From here I’m going gong back to the centre of the country. I may start in the centre, either in Beira or in Chimoio. But I can’t say when I’m going back there”. Dhlakama’s official spokesperson, Antonio Muchanga, added: "we are working to ensure that our leader’s campaign will begin before next weekend. The place has not yet been decided, but we will announce it”.

There will be a special sitting of parliament on Monday to approve the final document, which includes four parts: a ceasefire declaration, a memorandum of understanding, guarantee mechanisms, and the terms of reference of the foreign military observers who will monitor the cessation of hostilities. The agreement remains secret, but presumably will be released when it is presented to parliament. Savana obtained a copy of the agreement and published part of it, but has never explained why it withheld and failed to publish the key page on demobilising Renamo's "residual forces".

Frelimo had run an extensive disinformation campaign with reports from pro-Frelimo commentators in the media, particularly the government daily Noticas, saying that Dhlakama was so seriously ill that he needed evacuation to South Africa. In fact, journalists report he looks in very good health. (Joseph Hanlon)


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