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In a sign of confidence in the present cessation of hostilities, thousands of villagers have began to return to central Manica and homes they deserted as a result of the recent politico-military conflict between Renamo and the Mozambican government.
“There is no longer any war, so I have returned with my family, here where I can make a living selling food to travellers,” says Elisa Roque, a resident of Nhamatema in Báruè district, waving a bowlful of boiled and roasted corncob to passing vehicles.
On the outskirts of the village, where a government delegation was attacked and villagers forced to flee as suspected Renamo supporters, traditional honey and charcoal stalls have also begun to reopen.
Several villages, especially in Mossurize in the south and Báruè in the north of Manica, were completely abandoned due to clashes between government forces and the armed wing of Renamo.
However, since the announcement of a 60-day truce by the Renamo leader in January, the population has been thinking about returning home, and others have already begun cleaning up houses damaged by fire.
“We fled to Catandica, to a family member’s house, but we were only waiting for everything to end, and many people will continue to return now that there is no longer any fighting,” Honde (Báruè) resident Ndeinda said at the battered epicenter of the resumption in 2016 of the military conflict between the parties.
Ndinda remembered how she fled from her house at dawn last winter without even clothes on her body.
In Chiuala, the center of the attacks attributed by the police to Renamo on the N7 between Manica and Tete and on to the African interior, a village once occupied by government forces quartered there once again has residents plying their trades.
“First we started selling mangoes, even with car escorts, but now the situation has improved and many are already returning home because there is no fighting any more,” a local merchant said, explaining that the military that had occupied the village had now withdrawn leaving only a token force.
The military still patrol the village, which saw a great number of attacks on the N7, but casually dressed and unarmed.
A 60-day truce which was declared by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in January to allow peace talks between the government and his party ends on March 4.
Although concrete progress has not yet been announced, working groups to prepare for the new phase of the dialogue on military matters and decentralization were announced this month.
In a recent interview with Lusa, Dhlakama said he hoped to find a solution for peace before the end of the truce, despite allegations of violations.Source: Lusa