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Mozambique Government, Renamo Agree to End Violent Clashes

Renamo Leader Afonso Dhlakama
Renamo Leader Afonso Dhlakama, seen here in April, plans to give a speech tomorrow, if Renamo can find a secure venue to hold a press conference, party General Secretary Manuel Bissopo said by mobile phone today. Photographer: Jinty Jackson/AFP via Getty Images

Mozambique’s government and the main opposition group Renamo reached an accord to end clashes in the central province of Sofala, leading negotiators said.

Talks have led to “total agreement” on ending the violence and the two sides are now discussing implementation, Simone Macuiane, chief negotiator for the former rebel movement, told reporters in the capital, Maputo, yesterday. “No one will be hunted” or prosecuted for their role in the violence, said Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, from the government delegation. The accord is due to be signed tomorrow.

The government has been seeking to ease tensions before general elections in October. At least eight civilians were killed last month in Renamo attacks on convoys escorted by the army in the Muxungue region, according to the police.

Clashes between Renamo and security forces disrupted public transportation in Sofala and the movement of coal by rail to the coast from mines owned by Rio Tinto Plc and Vale SA last year.

Talks between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party stalled in June after Renamo accused the government of trying to kill party leader Afonso Dhlakama. At least 20 soldiers died in gun battles May 31 and June 1, Renamo said.

The agreement will allow senior Renamo military officials to retain their arms as part of the national army, Joseph Hanlon, a senior lecturer at the U.K.’s Open University and author of several books on the country including Mozambique: Who Calls the Shots?, said in an e-mailed report on July 25.

“This puts Renamo people inside the system who will report back to the leadership any perceived anti-Renamo actions,” Hanlon said.

Renamo, once backed by the white-minority governments of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and South Africa, fought a 17-year civil war against the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique until signing a peace agreement in Rome in 1992. Renamo said in October that the reconciliation had ended after security forces attacked the party’s headquarters.

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