Dhlakama launches campaign from hideout

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IOL pic mar9 renamo leader

Independent Newspapers

Afonso Dhlakama, the leader of Renamo, speaks to supporters in Maraza village, near Beira. File picture: File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Maputo - Mozambican opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama will launch his presidential election campaign by telephone from his remote mountain hideout, his spokesman said Tuesday.

The former rebel chieftain, who returned to the bush in 2012 and embarked on a low-level insurgency, was anointed presidential candidate for October polls by his Renamo party on Monday.

“We will hold a tele-conference,” to broadcast his message to a party rally in the central city of Beira on Tuesday afternoon, spokesman Antonio Muchanga told AFP.

Two decades after signing a peace accord to end a bitter civil war between Renamo and the Frelimo-led government, Dhlakama quit the capital Maputo, threatening to divide the country again unless the government agreed to a list of demands.

These include equal representation for Renamo in the armed forces and police.

After government forces overran his bush camp late last year he went into hiding in the remote Gorongosa mountains in central Mozambique.

His forces have waged a sporadic insurgency in Gorongosa and along the national highway close to the town of Muxungue in the centre of the country. Clashes have also broken out in north-western Tete and central Zambezia provinces.

Dhlakama emerged briefly to register as a voter during a specially arranged visit by a mobile registration brigade to the foothills of the Gorongosa mountains, and communicates with the media via a satellite phone link.

With just four months to go before the presidential polls, his party says it is close to reaching a negotiated settlement with the government and that Dhlakama will soon be able to campaign freely.

“We do not know when but everything indicates this”, Muchunga told AFP.

Dhlakama, 61, has stood for every presidential election since 1994. While he narrowly lost to President Armando Guebuza's predecessor, Joaquim Chissano in 1999, he garnered just 16 percent of the vote against Guebuza in 2009.

Guebuza is due to step down in October after serving two terms and the ruling Frelimo party candidate will be former defence minister, Felipe Nyusi. - AFP


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