After a two-week break, the talks between the Mozambican government and the Renamo rebels resumed in Maputo under international mediation, but there was no sign of any advance towards a cessation of hostilities.
The talks, beginning in the late afternoon on Monday, lasted for about four hours, but the government and Renamo did not talk to each other directly. Instead the mediators met with each delegation separately.
The coordinator of the mediating team, Italian Mario Raffaelli, told reporters afterwards there had been “an initial discussion” with the two sides. “I have nothing to say,” he added.
The mediators would work with the two sides, but he could not say when the next meeting would be.
The mediators were picking up from where they left off in August, attempting to arrange a truce, but Renamo shows no interest in laying down its weapons.
As a condition for a cessation of hostilities, Renamo demands that the government must withdraw its forces from the Gorongosa mountain range, near the bush camp where its leader Afonso Dhlakama has his headquarters.
The government has rejected this demand, pointing out it had the responsibility to protect the population of Gorongosa from Renamo attacks.
Renamo did not even accept the mediators’ proposal for a demilitarised corridor in Sofala province, which would allow the mediators access to Dhlakama’s camp, and thus ensure a face-to-face meeting between Dhlakama and the mediating team.
Meanwhile Renamo’s low-level insurrection rumbles on, making travel hazardous along several main roads in the central and northern provinces.
The latest interference with traffic was the establishment of a Renamo roadblock in the northern province of Niassa. Renamo gunmen stopped and searched vehicles using the road, on the pretext of seeing whether they were carrying soldiers or policemen.
Last week, Association of Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle (ACLLN) general secretary Fernando Faustino urged the government to distribute guns to demobilised soldiers who had once fought for Frelimo in the war for Mozambican independence.
Faustino said they wanted to defend themselves and “teach Dhlakama a lesson”.
Deputy defence minister Patricio Jose told reporters the government was contemplating whether or not to grant the request.
– African News Agency (ANA)