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Just when it should be focusing on the general elections of October 15, Renamo faces an internal conflict that threatens to destabilise the country’s main opposition party.
José Manteigas, spokesman for the Mozambican National Resistance, has dismissed threats against the president of the party by a dissident group, saying “All this is falsehood. It is an attempt to destabilise Renamo”.
Armed guerrillas around Mariano Nhungue Chissingue say Renamo leader Ossufo Momade is responsible for the death of one of their number, a brigadier named Isaias Josefa, and accuse Momade of persecuting the trusted allies of late Renamo founder Afonso Dhlakama.
Manteigas counters that this is nothing but slander and that, in the Renamo stronghold in the Gorongosa mountain range, all is calm.
A group of guerrillas belonging to Mozambique’s main opposition party on Wednesday (12-06) demanded the resignation of Ossufo Momade from the party’s presidency. In an interview with journalists in Gorongosa, gunmen with AK-47’s, some in uniform and others in civilian clothes, said they were fleeing from alleged persecution by the party leader. Mariano Nhungue Chissingue, who presented himself as the commander of the group, accused Ossufo Momade of having arrested, tortured and killed fellow guerrillas.: “Our own Brigadier Josefa was killed on the 3rd – last Monday,” Chissingue said, adding that the victim was shot five times at the behest of the party leader.
DW was not able to independently verify the reports. The family of Isaias Josefa says they have been unaware of his whereabouts since March 11. One of the family members, Araujo Tique, told DW: “He said he was going to the formation. After formation, he called and said he was already under arrest.” “We are worried, because we do not know whether he is alive or dead,” he added.
“If he does not leave, we’ll kill him”
Chissingue has promised to retaliate against the alleged persecution. “This July, from 10 to 15, we will meet and choose who will be our president,” he said on Wednesday. “As for Ossufo, never again. If he does not want to leave, we’ll kill him. If he killed our colleague, we’ll attack him. He’s ruined our party and killed our brigadier, who served the people for eight years.”
Elections at the door
The guerrillas have refused to hand over their weapons as long as Ossufo Momade is party president, but Manteigas appeals for calm, saying that all this is just “slanderous and coarse grandstanding”. “The burden of proof lies with the accuser,” he adds, calling Chissingue “a deserter” from the armed wing of the party and demanding evidence for the charges.
Manteigas says the party is focused on the October 15 elections, with Ossufo Momade as the party’s candidate for the presidency of Mozambique.
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