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Mozambique: Government and rebels ink peace pact ahead of elections

06.08.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
A new era is opened in the history of Mozambique as the main opposing parties have resolved at bringing to an end, the discord that has been reigning in the Southern African nation. August 1st 2019 formally marked the end of 27 years of military hostilities when Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo opposition leader Ossufo Momade signed a landmark agreement at the Gorongosa National Park, the centre of the country. The long peace negotiation process initiated by Renamo's historic leader, Afonso Dhlakama, who died in May 2018, comes just weeks before a visit by Pope Francis and a national election in October that will test the present political rivals' new resolve.

Pope Francis’ coming he says, is to promote reconciliation in the southern African country of some 30 million people. Sant’Egidio, one of the Catholic Church’s community helped to negotiate the war’s end in 1992 and since then, the church has been a push force for peace.

PEACE DEAL THAT PAVES WAY OUT OF CONFLICT

The ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the main opposing Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) resolved at a peace pact on Thursday, August 1st to stop years of hostilities that followed a 16-year civil war. President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade inked the pact and embraced at Gorongosa National Park, near the Renamo headquarters where the group has maintained an armed base for more than 40 years.

During the signing, Momade, the new Renamo leader who succeeded Dhlakama, said: “We want to assure our people and the world that we have buried the mindset of using violence as a way of resolving our differences.” For his part, incumbent President Nyusi equally said “this agreement opens a new era in the history of our country in which no Mozambican should use weapons to resolve conflicts. The act shows our commitment to permanent and lasting peace.” Nyusi added, “Today, August 1, a new child was born.”

The memorable event was witnessed by some African leaders in the southern and East African region; South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Namibia’s Hage Geingob, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Edgar Lungu of Zambia.

IMPACT OF YEARS OF HOSTILITIES

A brutal 16-year civil war broke out in Mozambique between the Renamo and Frelimo government, barely a while when the country obtained her independence from Portugal in 1975. As severe as it was, no less than one million people were recorded dead before the fighting came to an end in 1992. From then, the first peace pact was signed in Rome, paving the way for multi-party elections in 1994. Unfortunately, the Mozambican National Resistance Movement lost that vote and subsequent elections and became the official opposition party.

In October 2013, Renamo declared the end of the 1992 peace deal after the military raided its bush camp in central Sathundjira. Erupting fresh clashes between government forces and Renamo soldiers from 2013 to 2016. Since three years, the government and Renamo have been in talks, which continued after Dhlakama died from a suspected heart attack. Despite the end of the civil war and the group transforming into a political party, it maintained an armed wing.

WAY OUT FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS

Presidential, legislative and provincial elections are stated for October 15, 2019, in the former Portuguese colony. Elections which this year, are aimed at seeing a peaceful power-sharing deal between the Frelimo and Renamo parties. In parliament currently, reforms are being debated upon to allow voters to directly elect provincial governors, who at present are appointed by the president. Renamo on its part has long sought greater decentralisation of power and better integration of its supporters into the police and military. Reasons why after the penning of the peace pact, Momade on Tuesday, August 6th, embarked on disarming the armed members. According to the deal, some of the demobilised fighters will be integrated into the country’s army and police, while others into civilian life. More than 5 200 Renamo fighters are likewise expected to surrender their weapons to the government.

The signing of this memorable and long-awaited peace deal comes barely months before general elections of October 15. The negotiations pop in at a moment when President Nyusi’s administration is combatting a jihadist insurgency in the north, which has claimed over 250 lives since October 2017, and ahead of the visit by Pope Francis in September. After the August 1st accord, will succeed another agreement to be penned on August 6 in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, pledging peace in the October 15 general elections.  It is important to note that Mozambique was one of the countries in Southern Africa that was severely hit by cyclone Idai. Over 300 people lost their lives in the unfortunate natural disaster. Other were displaced. However, the Mozambican government is putting everything in place to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their votes in the October slated polls.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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