Mozambique leader says will ink formal peace deal with Renamo Thursday

Maputo (AFP) –


Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi has said he will sign a peace deal on Thursday with Renamo leader Ossufo Momade that will definitively end armed hostilities with the former rebel movement-turned-opposition party.

Nyusi made the announcement during an address to parliament on Wednesday, adding that the formal signing will take place at Renamo's remote military base in the Gorongosa mountains in the central region of the southern African country.

"Tomorrow I will sign a definitive peace agreement with the Renamo President Ossufo Momade in the Gorongosa Mountain," the president said.

"The agreement that we will sign marks the official end of the conflict between Renamo armed men and the defence and security forces, and allow for the long-lasting peace that all Mozambicans have so longed for."

The signing would bring an end to a long peace negotiation process initiated by Renamo's historic leader, Alfonso Dhlakama, who died in May last year.

In the mid-1970s, Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Frelimo government that left one million people dead before the fighting stopped in 1992.

Despite the end of the civil war and the group transforming into a political party, it retained an armed wing.

Fresh clashes then erupted again between government forces and Renamo soldiers from 2013 to 2016.

Since 2016, the government and Renamo have been in talks, which continued after Dhlakama died from a suspected heart attack.

Momade, who took over from Dhlakama, is expected to fly from Gorongosa to Maputo after the signing ceremony, the first time he visits the capital in many years.

According to Renamo spokesman, Gilberto Chiridza, Momade is due to land at Maputo International Airport at 2:30 pm (12:30 GMT) on Thursday.

Momade was elected lawmaker for the northern Nampula province in the 2015 general elections, but only attended a few parliamentary sessions in the early months.

- 'End of the conflict' -

On Monday parliament approved a new amnesty law for all crimes committed during the conflict between government and Renamo since 2014.

The law offers clemency to Renamo fighters who attacked civilians and government facilities. It also paves the way for Momade to leave his mountain hideout.

Justice Minister Joaquim Verissimo on Monday told parliament that the law was aimed at "political stability and to guarantee an effective and long-lasting peace", as well as ensure "mutual trust" and help with "national reconciliation".

On Tuesday Renamo began disarming its armed members as part of the peace deal that will see the fighters re-integrated into the country's army and police.

More than 5,200 Renamo fighters are to expected to surrender their weapons to the government, a condition for the peace deal to be signed on August 1.

The announcement of the formal signing of the peace deal comes just two-and-half months before general elections scheduled for October 15 in the former Portuguese colony in southeastern Africa.