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Moz cops arrest Renamo leader

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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 police on Monday arrested a spokesman for Renamo, the rebel movement turned political party, in a new setback to ongoing reconciliation talks, Renamo said.

Antonio Muchanga, a member of the Council of State that advises the presidency, was detained at the end of a meeting at which relations with Renamo had been discussed.

He was arrested despite enjoying diplomatic immunity as a member of the Council of State.

The arrest followed the 63rd round of direct talks between the government and Renamo, which is seeking joint command of the army and police and calling for a more equitable distribution of the country's wealth.

Dozens of people have been killed in clashes between government troops and Renamo, and in attacks the government blames on the former rebels. The reasons for Muchanga's arrest were not given. dpa was unable to obtain comments from police or the Home Ministry.

It was thought possible the Renamo spokesman had irritated the government with his strongly worded statements.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who is hiding in the central Gorongosa mountains, has accused President Armando Guebuza of trying to prevent him from contesting the October 15 presidential elections.

Renamo is the former rebel movement that signed a peace deal with the ruling Frelimo party in 1992, ending the long and bloody civil war that followed the departure of colonial power Portugal from the southern African country.

Renamo is now the largest opposition party in parliament, with 51 out of 250 seats.

Sapa-dpa


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