Mozambique political talks resume despite attacks

Published June 24, 2013

| AFP

A new round of talks opened on Monday between Mozambique's main opposition Renamo and government over a list of grievances raised by the ex-rebels.

The negotiations resumed just three days after deadly attacks in central Mozambique that authorities suspect were carried out by Renamo members.

Entering the talks, Renamo officials said last Friday's attacks, which killed at least two people, were not on the agenda.

"We are not here to talk about questions related to these incidents," said Renamo's chief negotiator, Saimon Macuiane. "We will stick exactly to the points on our agenda. Mozambicans want to know if the parties will reach consensus over this. Nothing else."

The attacks raised fears of heightening political tensions and unrest in the country where until 1992 Renamo waged a brutal 16-year civil war that claimed around one million lives.

The talks are the latest addressing Renamo's demands for more representation in the armed forces and a cut of coal and gas revenues and changes to the electoral law.

Six previous rounds of talks with the communist-rooted Frelimo government have failed.

President Armando Guebuza on Sunday said his government would "willingly" take part in the talks to "try to resolve the problems facing the country."

"Despite the dangerous provocations by Renamo, Mozambique will continue to live in peace and the government will continue to participate in dialogue with Renamo", he told public broadcaster Radio Mozambique.

Monday's talks are the seventh round of so-called "political dialogue" that began in May.

On Monday Renamo said its priority for now was to strike a deal on changes it wants to electoral laws. Without the changes, Renamo has threatened to boycott the November local elections.

To guarantee credible elections, Renamo wants equal representation with Frelimo on the national electoral commission.

"That is very important for us. People want free elections in this country," Macuaine told AFP.

Renamo has frequently complained of electoral fraud, since the first multi-party elections were held in 1994.

The talks are of utmost importance for ordinary Mozambicans who are worried by the deteriorating security situation in the centre of the country.

"They must keep talking until they reach consensus," said Maputo taxi driver Jose Bande who fought on the Frelimo government's side in the civil war that ended two decades ago.

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