The Mozambican government has expressed skepticism at the proposal from the former rebel movement Renamo that the document guaranteeing the cessation of hostilities should be sent to the central district of Gorongosa, for Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to append his signature.
On Monday, at the 72nd session of the government-Renamo dialogue in Maputo, the head of the government team, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, said “this is something we need to go into in more depth. We have to avoid risks so that tomorrow we don’t reach the conclusion that the documents were signed by people who don’t have that power”.
He added that the two delegations were working “to discover the best way we can use to overcome this problem. The challenge is to find the ideal scenario for the approval of this document”.
A week ago the two delegations approved the final documents.
These deal with a cessation of hostilities, the integration of Renamo gunmen into the Mozambican army and police, the disarming of Renamo, and the terms of reference of the foreign military observers who will monitor this.
It had long been assumed that the final deal required the approval of the two top leaders – President Armando Guebuza and Afonso Dhlakama. But Dhlakama is still living in a Renamo base in Gorongosa and shows no sign of leaving.
Last week Pacheco offered to send whatever transport Renamo might need to bring its leader to Maputo, and guaranteed Dhlakama’s personal safety. Nonetheless Dhlakama has refused to move, and told reporters by telephone that he still fears he might be assassinated.
Renamo came up in quick succession with three possibilities of approving the agreement without the need for the physical presence of Dhlakama in the capital. First, the head of the Renamo delegation to the dialogue, Saimone Macuiana, said that he had received authorisation from Dhlakama to sign in the Renamo leader’s name, and Dhlakama himself later backed this up.
At the weekend, another member of the Renamo delegation, Eduardo Namburete, suggested sending the document to Gorongosa. Dhlakama would sign it there, and then return it to Maputo for Guebuza’s signature.
Dhlakama’s latest proposal, made in a telephone interview with the independent television station STV, is that neither of the leaders should approve the document. Instead it should just be signed by Pacheco and Macuiana, which would simply duplicate last week’s ceremony.
Macuiana told reporters on Monday that his delegation is ready to sign the final document, and he accused the government of dragging its feet.
“From the part of the government, there is still no ceasefire. This is because the government says it is not in any condition for this”, he claimed – although the government has said nothing of the sort.
“We are ready to make our contribution in the name of the interests of our people”, he said. “Renamo is in favour of an urgent and immediate ceasefire”.
But not of a ceasefire signed jointly by Guebuza and Dhlakama – Macuiana insisted that Dhlakama will only come to Maputo after the cessation of hostilities has been confirmed.