Pretoria, South Africa – As Mozambique prepares for elections on 15 October 2014, an ISS seminar today debated the impact that armed former Renamo rebels may have on the outcome, and whether Afonso Dhlakama, Renamo’s presidential candidate, will maintain the newfound peace if he loses the elections.
‘The recent ceasefire agreement between the government and Renamo is positive, but proper guarantees are needed to ensure peace during and after the elections’, said Stephanie Wolters, head of the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis division at the ISS.
‘Both parties ought to commit to the cessation of armed violence before, during and after the elections, regardless of the winner of the presidential poll,’ said Wolters. ‘They also need to abide by a sustainable disarmament and socio-economic reintegration plan for former Renamo combatants who are still armed’. The ceasefire signals the beginning of an end to the conflict that has been simmering since the signing of the Rome Peace Agreement in 1992. The fact that Dhlakama did not personally sign the ceasefire agreement, opting to use a proxy instead, raises questions about his commitment to the process.
Nevertheless, speakers at the seminar from both government and civil society in Mozambique were optimistic about prospects for peace, expressing confidence in the election process and a stable future.
‘The tone set by the recent ceasefire agreement between the government and Renamo is the foundation of the long-term stability that the country needs,’ said Genoveva Garoupa, National Director for Social Reintegration in Mozambique’s Ministry of Combatants. ‘It will provide an opportunity for a sustainable disarmament process and a platform for the reintegration of former Renamo combatants back into society.’
Co-panelists Albino Forquilha, Executive Director of FOMICRES, a Mozambican civil society engaged in the socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants, and Natalio Nhamuche, a Mozambican expert in demobilisation and disarmament, shared Garoupa’s views.
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The ISS is an African organisation that aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.