Mozambique rebel leader announces 2 month ceasefire
Mozambican rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama announced Tuesday a two-month ceasefire in the rumbling conflict between Renamo and the government, extending a week-long truce in a move welcomed by the president.
The clashes between the Frelimo government and Renamo, an armed insurgent group and also an elected opposition party, have revived the spectre of Mozambique’s civil war that ended more than 20 years ago.
“There have been some minor incidents, but the seven-day truce went well, so I announce the extension of the truce for 60 days, until March 4,” Dhlakama said in a telephone press conference
“The truce is intended to build an atmosphere conducive to advancing talks in Maputo, in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility for both sides.”
Dhlakama, who lives in hiding in the Gorongosa mountains, said Renamo forces would not attack government troops or positions.
Last year saw a sharp escalation in violence, and more than 15,000 people have been forced to flee to government-run camps, relatives’ homes or across the border to Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The unexpected truce came after tentative moves towards a peace process were suspended indefinitely last year due to setbacks including the killing of a Renamo negotiator.
President Filipe Nyusi said on Monday the truce was “productive” to building trust, according to local television reports.
The fighting has often focused on Mozambique’s main roads, with Renamo attacking government convoys and civilian vehicles, and soldiers ruthlessly targeting suspected Renamo rebels in nearby villagers.
The death toll is unknown but scores of people are reported to have been killed in 2016, with both the Frelimo and Renamo parties also suffering assassinations of local politicians.