OPINION- Russia prepares a foothold in Mozambique: Risks and opportunities - By Sergey Sukhankin
Picture: O País
He went to the conference of the self-proclaimed Renamo Military Junta with the rank of major general, and left with that of lieutenant general. The promotion of Mariano Nhongo results from his election as chair of the group of dissident guerrillas belonging to Renamo, Mozambique’s largest opposition party.
Nhongo appeared at the conference which gathered together more than 200 people in the Gorongosa mountain range from Saturday to Monday in civilian clothes, but always surrounded by green-uniformed guerrillas with AK47 rifles – an image reminiscent of historical Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
And it was in a suit and tie that Mariano Nhongo made the first statements to the press as president of the “Renamo Military Junta”. He promised to respect the military truce (officially extinguished with the signing of the Maputo peace and reconciliation agreement); demanded the postponement of the elections scheduled for 15 October; declared the process of demilitarisation, demobilisation and reintegration of Renamo armed men (better known as DDR) null and void; and demanded further negotiations with the government.
“The government must immediately stop negotiating peace with Mr. Ossufo Momade. We are open to dialogue. We will trigger the same mechanisms that President Afonso Dhlakama used to contact the government,” Nhongo said, threatening that if the government violated the “truce”, the junta would respond.
As for the postponement of the elections, the Renamo Military Junta needs time to field its own candidacies.
“Incidentally, I myself, as Renamo president, need time to prepare,” Nhongo said, revealing his intention to run for president of Mozambique.
On Saturday, Ossufo Momade, the Renamo president elected by party congress, began his pre-campaign in Nampula province, the country’s largest constituency.
Confined in the Gorongosa woods, the chairman of the ‘Military Junta’ demanded that Ossufo Momade and André Magibire (Renamo secretary general) stop maintaining contact with the government and using party symbols for electoral purposes.
“There is no possible dialogue with the Renamo of Ossufo Momade and André Magibire. For us, they are traitors. They ignored the lines set by President Afonso Dhlakama for the DDR process after they were discussed by us and the Renamo national council. They dismissed without just cause Renamo provincial and district delegates. They had all Renamo officers who tried to demand the truth arrested and invented the Renamo United while Renamo’s political and military wings were never separated.”
For fear of possible attack, the Renamo Military Junta decided to move the guerrillas to safe locations. Through its spokesman, Joao Machava, the junta has announced that it will ask the governments of Portugal, Rwanda and the International Red Cross to intervene in order to guarantee security to its president. “He needs security to be able to move in and out of the country on peace negotiation missions,” was the reason given.
One of the conference participants was the nephew and namesake of Renamo’s first commander in chief, André Matsangaisse. Speaking to the press, Matsangaisse asked Renamo members to stop contacting the party leadership.
“All Renamo members, including MPs, provincial and district delegates who contact Mr Ossufo Momade and/or André Magibire, are warned that they are on a collision course with the Renamo military wing. The message extends to the government of Mozambique,” he threatened.
By Francisco RaivaSource: O País