Mozambican Opposition Leader Detained at Home, Party Says

The leader of Mozambique’s main opposition group, Afonso Dhlakama, was held under house arrest in the central port city of Beira on Friday, his party said, after he emerged from hiding following an attack on his convoy two weeks ago that left 24 people dead.

Dhlakama’s house was surrounded by the security forces, Antonio Muchanga, spokesman for the National Resistance of Mozambique, or Renamo, said by phone from Beira. The siege ended after Dhlakama handed over some small-arms, some of which Renamo said were taken from government forces, daily newspaper Canal Moz reported on its Facebook page.

The opposition leader was escorted by police, independent mediators and Renamo supporters to Beira Thursday from an undisclosed location in rural central Mozambique, where he had been since the attack on the main east-west highway on Sept. 25.

The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique said on its Facebook page Friday that police were protecting Dhlakama and that his guards were disarmed for his own safety. Daviz Simango, leader of the Mozambique Democratic Movement, which came third in October elections disputed by Renamo, said Friday “this is not protection, this is house arrest.”

MAO: Beira, Mozambique

Dhlakama and his party claim they were ambushed two weeks ago, while police say they intervened after Renamo armed guards opened fire on a civilian bus. Eyewitness accounts reported in the Mozambican press say that rocket propelled grenades were fired at the Renamo vehicles during the attack. Police said Sept. 29 they were investigating Dhlakama and all those present in the Renamo convoy involved in the Sept. 25 fighting.

The European Union “is following developments with apprehension,” a statement published on behalf of the heads of EU diplomatic missions in Maputo, the capital, on Friday shows. “Efforts made in recent days to reverse the escalation in military tensions and create a climate of trust between the parties risk being put in doubt. A peaceful solution requires permanent commitment to dialog and nonviolence.”

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