June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Mozambique’s government has deployed soldiers to the central province of Sofala to assassinate opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, a spokesman for his Mozambique National Resistance party said.
“The government is sending troops to Sofala and the unique reason we see is to kill Afonso Dhlakama,” spokesman Fernando Mazanga told reporters today in Maputo, the capital. Calls to President Armando Guebuza’s office seeking comment weren’t immediately answered.
Verdade, a Maputo-based newspaper, said yesterday that as many as 1,000 troops had been sent to the Gorongosa mountain region were Dhlakama is based. The deployment follows attacks on vehicles traveling on the main EN1 highway that runs through Sofala, it said.
The government has blamed the raids on Renamo, which fought a 15-year civil war against Guebuza’s ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique that ended in 1992. Renamo and Frelimo have failed to reach agreement in six rounds of negotiations over electoral reforms that the opposition says are necessary before a vote expected next year.
Rio Tinto Plc, which mines coal in Mozambique, said June 26 that it had temporarily suspended coal shipments by rail through Sofala. Brazil’s Vale SA, which also digs coal in the southern African nation, said it was “observing” the situation.
Dhlakama is “open” to meeting Guebuza in an effort to calm tensions, Mazanga said.
Guebuza told reporters two days ago that the recent attacks “will not threaten the peace” and that while he is willing to meet Dhlakama, “he is always hiding away.”
While another Renamo spokesman, Jeronimo Malagueta, denied on June 19 that his party was responsible for the violence, he threatened to disrupt transportation. He was subsequently arrested.
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