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Mozambican government forces will withdraw from 28 positions in the central district of Gorongosa by the end of June, according to Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Renamo rebels in an interview published in Friday’s issue of the independent weekly “Savana”.
President Filipe Nyusi had announced the start of this withdrawal last week. Dhlakama claimed this was a quid pro quo for the truce he declared in late December, and which has now been extended for an indefinite period.
“With this indefinite truce, the President of the Republic would commit to removing all the positions of the government forces that are around the Gorongosa region”, said Dhlakama. “They would leave in phases. We shall draw up a calendar, but with a final date, so that by the end of the first half of this year, all the troops have been withdrawn from the Gorongosa region”.
He claimed that the government positions had effectively surrounded the Gorongosa mountain range. Dhlakama himself is now living in a Renamo base in the Gorongosa foothills. Since the war was now over, he added, the military concentration in Gorongosa no longer made any sense.
Only police positions would remain, Dhlakama said, in such places as Gorongosa town and the Vanduzi and Canda administrative pots.
One of the positions from which the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) is withdrawing is the former Renamo military base of Mazembe. Dhlakama said this will be converted into a joint centre for government and Renamo officers to supervise the truce in the central provinces.
“They will have transport so that, in the event of violations in these provinces, or complaints from the communities, they would have to go and investigate”, the Renamo leader said.
A second centre is being established in Maputo. According to Dhlakama, “this will have the mission of receiving reports from Gorongosa, and from various provinces”. The Maputo centre would analyse these reports and pass them onto to the working group between the government and Renamo that is dealing with military matters.
Dhlakama recognised that “this process is very complicated and it’s slow”, but he thought it better to go slowly “and try and purge once and for all the problems of the previous agreements”. He believed a final agreement could be reached by the end of 2017.
He thought it crucial that he and Nyusi should reach agreements in principle before the details were discussed in the government/Renamo working groups.
“The groups are negotiating the points that the two of us already know about”, he said. “If a Renamo group sits down with a government group and negotiates something that I don’t agree with, and that the President of the Republic doesn’t agree with, then there’s no success”.
Dhlakama hoped that the agreement he eventually signs with Nyusi “will be the last agreement, and that Mozambicans may rest once and for all”.
He denied that the negotiations are taking place in secret – but in the next breath confirmed that in reality they are. “We cannot go round publishing things which are not yet mature”, said Dhlakama. “There’s no secrecy, but we cannot every week, or every day, say ‘’we’re agreeing point X now, we’re agreeing point Y now’’. I think that’s not good in negotiations, because on both sides there are people who sometimes don’t feel good when things are going well, and may want to block them”.Source: AIM
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