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Mozambique leader offers rival face-to-face talks


Ready to talk ... Mozambique President Armando Guebuza

05/11/2013 00:00:00
by AFP
 
In hiding ... Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama
 
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MOZAMBIQUE’S government has called on the leader of revived rebel movement Renamo to come out of hiding for face-to-face talks, in a bid to end destabilising military skirmishes.

The Frelimo-led government called on its civil war foe Afonso Dhlakama to travel to Maputo on 8 November to discuss his grievances with President Armando Guebuza, according to a statement quoted by the state news agency on Tuesday.

Supporters of Dhlakama - a rebel leader in Mozambique's brutal civil war - have been involved in a series of deadly attacks and are demanding a share of the country's resource wealth.

For many Mozambicans the crisis has uncomfortable echoes of a 16-year civil war between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party that resulted in the deaths of around one million people.

Amid nearly a year of simmering tensions and sporadic attacks on police and civilians, the Mozambique army raided Dhlakama's bush camp on 21 October.

He has been in hiding since then.

The factions signed a peace deal in 1992 and Renamo subsequently became the main opposition party, but has since seen its support erode.

Guebuza said he wanted to hold talks "out of respect for the strong wishes of the Mozambican people", his office said.

Thousands of people marched across the country last Thursday to protest a range of issues, including the prospects of a new war.

A face-to-face meeting between the two leaders is widely seen as the only way of ending the impasse after months of dialogue between Renamo and the government failed to yield results.

Gunmen, reportedly from Renamo, have attacked civilian vehicles almost daily on the main north-south highway in central Mozambique since the fall of Dhlakama's bush camp.

Last week Guebuza told AFP in an exclusive interview "the solution is dialogue. It is not a military solution", a day after government forces attacked another Renamo camp.

Both sides have said they want peace, although the tit-for-tat clashes continue.

Renamo has in the past called for Guebuza to travel to the central Sofala province for talks, where Dhlakama has strong support.



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