The UN Secretary General’s personal envoy to Mozambique described the armed attacks attributed to Renamo dissidents in the centre of the country as “an antithesis of the vision of Afonso Dhlakama,” a former leader of that party who died in 2018.
“The attacks in the centre of the country are the antithesis of the vision of peace that Dhlakama fought to preserve during his last years,” wrote Mirko Manzoni in a note issued to mark the first anniversary of the final cessation of military hostilities agreement signed on August 6 last year.
At stake are the attacks in the center of the country attributed to a dissident Renamo group led by Mariano Nhongo, a former guerrilla leader, who is demanding better conditions for reintegration and the resignation of the party’s current president, Ossufo Momade, accusing him of having diverted the negotiation process from the ideals of his predecessor, Afonso Dhlakama.
The armed attacks in central Mozambique have affected the provinces of Manica and Sofala and have claimed the lives of at least 24 people since August last year, on roads and in villages in both provinces.
Officially, Renamo has dissociated itself from the actions of Mariano Nhongo’s group, classifying him as a deserter and reiterating the main opposition party’s commitment to the peace agreement signed in August.
According to Mirko Manzoni, who is the chairman of the contact group for the negotiations, the guerrillas who will be covered by the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process agree that “external disturbances cannot be allowed to compromise the process,” recalling that it was Dhlakama who took the first steps towards peace, with the declaration in 2016 of a ceasefire that opened space for “the parties to develop bonds of trust.
“Respect for the cessation of hostilities is essential now that progress is being made in the DDR process of former Renamo combatants,” Mirko Manzoni stressed.
In June, António Guterres’ personal envoy to Mozambique said he had already tried to talk to Mariano Nhongo but was unsuccessful.
“Mariano Nhongo is adamant and all approaches towards an understanding have failed,” Mirko Manzoni said at the time in an interview with STV television channel.
Despite the incursions attributed to Nhongo’s group, the process of disarming the main opposition party’s armed wing under the Aug. 6 agreement continues, with more than 500 guerrillas already covered, 10% of the total.
“There have been some challenges along the way, but I am firmly convinced that there is now no more room for backtracking on the road to a definitive peace,” notes Mirko Manzoni.