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Moz opposition warns of bloodshed

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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 party Renamo warned Wednesday that the country risked even greater military conflict if government troops advanced any closer to the mountain hideout of its leader, Afonso Dhlakama.

Renamo, which claims the government has moved more troops to the central Gorongosa mountains for an assault on Dhlakama's position, says it wants them moved back.

“Military conflicts of greater magnitude and with disastrous, unpredictable consequences,” would result from any attempt by government to carry out what it claims is a plan to “eliminate or assassinate” Dhlakama, the party said through its spokesman, Antonio Muchanga.

Renamo (Mozambican National Resistance) became the official opposition after a peace treaty in 1992 ended its 16 year civil war against the ruling, Mozambique National Front (Frelimo).

But Dhlakama withdrew to the bush in 2012, alleging the government had broken terms of the peace deal.

His forces have been engaged in a standoff with government troops since late last year, with skirmishes in the central Sofala province claiming scores of lives and displacing several thousand civilians.

Dhlakama went into hiding in the Gorongosa mountains after government forces over-ran his bush camp in late 2013, emerging briefly earlier this month to register as a voter for October polls.

The act of registration is a legal requirement if he is to stand for the presidency in October polls.

With only five months to go before elections, Dhlakama says he wants the government to guarantee his safety so that he can emerge from hiding to run for the presidency.

Talks this week between government and Renamo negotiators aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict remained at an impasse.

The government, which gave way on Renamo's demands for an overhaul of the electoral system earlier this year, has refused to budge on a demand for half of all security forces to be made up of Renamo members.

Sapa-AFP


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