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The dissident faction within the main Mozambican opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, the self-styled “Renamo Military Junta”, has appointed its leader, Maj-Gen Mariano Nhungo, as the new leader of Renamo – a move certain to be rejected both by the official Renamo leadership and by the Mozambican government.
The Military Junta went ahead on Saturday with a meeting, which they termed an “Extraordinary Council” of the junta somewhere in the bush of the central district of Gorongosa to seize control of Renamo.
In a speech by Nhongo, circulating on the Internet, he declared that Ossufo Momade was no longer President of Renamo and, since there were no other candidates, he was now the “Interim President of Renamo”.
He thus scrapped the results of the Renamo Congress held in January, in which there was a contested election, won easily by Momade. Nhongo claimed the Congress had been infiltrated by “traitors” who formed an “illegitimate majority”.
He suggested that Momade had always been working for the ruling Frelimo Party because he was a soldier in the Mozambican army when he was kidnapped by Renamo in 1978. Both of Momade’s predecessors, Andre Matsangaissa and Afonso Dhlakama, had also once been in the army (but were cashiered for theft).
Nhongo claimed that Momade “deceived us all and for all these years. He never stopped obeying the Frelimo Party as one of its agents”.
He claimed that the peace agreement Momade signed with President Filipe Nyusi on 6 August is “an agreement for unconditional surrender”.
“Momade has sold us out to Frelimo”, he declared. “He and the other sell-outs have sold us in exchange for a few personal favours they have received. They dream of occupying minor leadership positions in future”.
After the 6 August signing, Momade was summoned to meet with the Military Junta, and he refused to go. So the Junta set up an “Extraordinary Military Tribunal” to try Momade for treason.
“We think there is all the evidence and no doubt of the act of treason”, said Nhongo. The Junta appointed a Renamo lieutenant to act as Momade’s defence lawyer “but he had no arguments to defend him. So we declared Lt-Gen Ossufo Momade guilty of treason, and stripped him of his rank and all his positions”.
Nhongo said a future Extraordinary Congress of Renamo would “ratify this sentence and decide on the expulsion of Ossufo Momade as a member of Renamo”.
Nhongo declared the peace agreement null and void. “It does not bind Renamo. It was signed by someone who had no authorisation from the Renamo National Council to sign it”, he said.
Nhongo said the “Extraordinary Council” had instructed him to demand the postponement of the general elections scheduled for 15 October, and the holding of “a new voter registration without fraud or gross manipulation”.
All Renamo forces are to be moved “to safe places, considering that the traitor Momade has delivered the coordinates of the bases to the enemy”. Despite this threatening move, Nhongo demanded that the government respect in full the current truce.
The meeting also demanded the release, by force if necessary, of Renamo fighters “currently held prisoner on the orders of the traitor Ossufo in Inhaminga and other bases occupied by the traitors”.
The Junta is also ordering the Renamo Parliamentary Group to vote against the law ratifying the peace agreement when it comes before the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, next week.
The Junta also wants the governments of Portugal and Rwanda, and the International Red Cross to negotiate safe passage for Nhongo, or his representative, “so that he can negotiate a genuine national understanding that reflects the will of Renamo”.
There is not the slightest chance of these demands being met. Nyusi has made it very clear that he regards Momade as the leader of Renamo, and thus as his negotiating partner. The government will not throw away a peace agreement that was carefully negotiated over more than two years, first with Dhlakama and then with Momade.
Foreign governments, who watched the signing of the 6 August agreement, are most unlikely to accept the Junta’s demands. Nor is there any sign that Renamo parliamentarians have any sympathy with the Junta.
The major uncertainty is how much support the Junta has among Renamo fighters. If they have significant support, then the planned demobilisation and disarming of the Renamo militia could be disrupted.Source: AIM
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