Mozambique’s Renamo Says Army Plans to Kill Dhlakama

The Mozambique National Resistance Army, the opposition group known as Renamo, accused the government of planning to kill its leader, Afonso Dhlakama.

The government on Oct. 21 attacked the main base of Renamo in the central Sofala province and there have been a series of clashes since then. A military official, who asked not to be identified because an announcement hasn’t been made, has said that 58 people, including 17 soldiers, died in a battle at Maringue in the province on Oct. 28.

“Since last week a large quantity of weapons was moved to Sofala to start a big military raid in Gorongosa and Maringue mountains to chase and kill President Dhlakama,” Fernando Mazanga, a spokesman for Renamo, said at a press conference in the country today. Edson Macuacua, a spokesman for the Mozambican presidency, didn’t immediately respond to calls to his mobile phone.

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 Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, until signing a peace agreement in Rome in 1992. Renamo last month said the peace agreement had ended after its base was attacked.

The attack followed earlier clashes that disrupted public transport in Sofala and the movement of coal by rail to the coast from mines owned by Rio Tinto Plc and Vale SA.

Army Ambush

Four soldiers were killed and 19 injured in an attack by Renamo militia today in the Vunduzi region of Sofala, Lusa, a Portuguese news agency, reported, citing people from the region.

State-owned Televisao de Mocambique and privately owned Soico Telvisao reported that there had been two separate attacks including an ambush of military vehicles. The television stations showed footage of bodies and soldiers being admitted to Beira Central Hospital.

Some of the injured are in a critical state although most are stable, Cesar Macome, director of the hospital, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Talks Rejected

Renamo also rejected a call by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for talks in Maputo, the capital, on Nov. 8, because it had been communicated via the media and attacks on the opposition group haven’t stopped.

“That invitation is simply a joke,” Mazanga said. “That is poisoned candy or political propaganda.”

Dhlakama is currently in hiding.

The Mozambican army is supported by troops from Zimbabwe and Brazil, Mazanga said.

Zimbabwe’s army helped Frelimo in its civil war against Renamo in the 1980s.

Zimbabwe’s army is on “high alert,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported yesterday, citing Sydney Sekeremayi, the country’s defense minister. Sekeremayi told the newspaper that no Zimbabwean troops have been deployed to Mozambique.

Brazil’s presidency and defense ministry didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed queries.

Mozambique, the site of the largest natural gas discovery in the last decade, plans to open a liquefied natural gas terminal in 2018 that will be the second-largest export site in the world after Ras Laffan in Qatar. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Eni SpA are among companies investing in gas production in the country.

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