Mozambique: Peace talks continue - By Joseph Hanlon
Photo: Sala da Paz
Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Thursday claimed there is a plot under way to destabilise it.
Reacting to claims that Renamo leader Ossufo Momade has ordered the execution of other prominent Renamo officers, Renamo spokesperson Jose Manteigas told a Maputo press conference this was “false information” intended to damage “the good name and reputation” of Renamo and of Momade.
He claimed it was an attempt “to create instability inside Renamo and in Mozambican society”, and “to discredit the charisma, the sense of responsibility, the selfless work (of Momade) and the massive acceptance by Mozambicans of the ideals of Renamo”.
He demanded that “these enemies of peace and social concord” prove their claims. In an attack on the media, he claimed it was a violation of professional ethics “to spread groundless information that undermines social harmony”.
In fact, faced with claims of summary executions ordered by Momade, reporters turned to Manteigas earlier in the week for a response, and he was unable to provide answers. A leaflet circulating on the Internet claimed that Momade ordered the execution of Col Josefa Isaias de Sousa. When reporters asked Manteigas if he could prove that Sousa is still alive, he replied that he did not know how to contact him.
Yesterday men claiming to be Renamo officers and guerrillas gave a press conference somewhere in the central district of Gorongosa, at which they demanded the resignation of Momade, and threatened to murder him, if he refused to go. Their spokesperson called himself General Mariano Chissinga.
The Portuguese news agency Lusa asked Manteigas on Wednesday if he could confirm that Chissinga and the other armed men shown in the video of the press conference were indeed members of Renamo, but he refused to answer.
However, at his own press conference, Manteigas said that Chissinga did indeed once hold the rank of Major-General in Renamo, but he had deserted from the Renamo forces.
Manteigas failed to respond to any of the specific claims made by Chissinga, or in the anonymous leaflet. Instead, he claimed that there is “unity among the forces unquestionably directed by their Commander-in-Chief, General Ossufo Momade”, and urged Mozambicans, and Renamo members and sympathisers in particular “to remain calm and focus on the approaching elections”.
He attacked President Filipe Nyusi for his recent public denunciations of activity by Renamo gunmen which are disturbing the public in parts of Tete and Manica provinces. He claimed that by going public about his concerns, Nyusi “is endangering the climate of honesty, good faith and cordiality” which has characterised the meetings between the President and Momade.
He added that Momade “invites the President to continue, without any retreat or animosity, the efforts which should lead to the signing of a peace agreement by August”.
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