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Maputo - Mozambican police said on Tuesday they do not believe opposition chief and former rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama will make good on his threat to return the country to war.
Responding to Dhlakama's threat that he will provoke a fresh bloodbath if the government does not share the country's ever-increasing wealth and reform the electoral system, the authorities said they trust he will not take up arms.
“Mr Dhlakama is not a child. He is an adult, and an adult thinks of the consequences of his actions. That is why we think he will not do anything. He has children and a wife,” police spokesman Pedro Cossa said on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview from his base in the Mozambican bush, Dhlakama said he wanted peace, but vowed to send the country “backwards” toward a brutal civil war if necessary.
“We don't believe he will go to war because he has promised several times that he will not make war, that he wants peace. We don't believe he can change his mind from one moment to the next and say he wants war,” Cossa said.
Mozambique's government has sent members of the country's elite riot squad or “Rapid Intervention Force” (FIR) to the Gorongosa area where Dhlakama is camped out with several hundred armed supporters.
Cossa said they were there to ensure Dhlakama's safety.
“We don't want any problems to occur involving his safety or his health so, if anyone does anything against him, FIR will be called in to assist,” he said.
“The police of FIR do not have the intention to attack the Renamo leader. We will wait until he wants to go back to his house in Maputo and accompany him.”
Renamo militants have clashed several times with the elite squad in the past and consider them their sworn enemies.
Earlier this year the FIR launched an assault on a group of Renamo militants who had camped out outside their former party headquarters in the northern city of Nampula. Four people died in the clash. - Sapa-AFP