Peace talks resume in Maputo after Dhlakama drops pre-conditions.
Peace talks between the Mozambican government and representatives of the Renamo rebel movement have resumed after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama unexpectedly dropped his demands for international mediation.
The 25 May meeting, at the Maputo headquarters of the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), was aimed at paving the way for a face-to-face summit between Dhlakama and Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi who have not met each other since February 2015.
Sporadic peace talks between the government and the main opposition party have been in place since April 2013 but Dhlakama suspended dialogue definitively last August after he requested mediation by the Catholic Church, the European Union and the South African president Jacob Zuma.
The Mozambican government rejected Dhlakama’s request on the grounds that foreign mediation was unnecessary in a domestic conflict. However Dhlakama recently dropped his pre-conditions and established a negotiating team, leading to the resumption of talks on 25 May.
In September 2014 Dhlakama signed a peace deal with Nyusi’s predecessor Armando Guebuza, following a two-year insurgency that resulted in scores of deaths in central Mozambique and damaged the country’s tourism and mining industries. Dhlakama subsequently entered into the country’s presidential elections but lost against Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party.
Since his electoral defeat Dhlakama has refused to recognise the legitimacy of Nyusi’s parliament, which he claims Frelimo won through electoral fraud. The Renamo leader also threatened to establish a parallel government in the north.
Frelimo and Renamo fought each other in a brutal 15-year civil war between 1977 and 1992, which claimed one million lives. After more than 20 years of peace, fighting broke out between both sides in 2012 in northern Mozambique but was brought to an end by the peace deal in 2014.
Renamo accuses Frelimo, which has governed Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975, of monopolising political and economic power in a nation where more than half the population still lives in poverty, despite being one of Africa’s fastest-growing ecomonies.