“We had agreed (with President Filipe Nyusi) that two mediators would come… to meet me,” Afonso Dhlakama said. “But the army started shooting. It is obvious they have a plan to kill me,” he said.
News24 and PressTV
Peace talks between Mozambique’s opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama and mediators have collapsed again after negotiations were called off this week as fighting broke out between the military and former dissidents.
Local media reported that the meeting was part of negotiations that opened in May to end a simmering conflict between the government and the former Renamo rebel group.
“We had agreed (with President Filipe Nyusi) that two mediators would come… to meet me,” Dhlakama told the independent weekly Canal de Mocambique.
But Dhlakama, who has been holed-up in the central Gorongosa mountains for a year now, said the military increased its presence near the venue of the meeting on the morning of the talks.
“Then there was a shootout. I heard the explosions from here,” Dhlakama said. “So I called (chief mediator Mario) Raffaelli to tell him that armed forces had come to ambush me.”
He said he was “convinced” that the ruling Frelimo party “wanted to capture me during the meeting”. “It is obvious they have a plan to kill me,” he added.
Raffaelli, the European Union-appointed mediator, declined to comment when contacted by reporters.
An EU diplomat, who asked not to be named, said that two mediators had gone to Gorongosa for a meeting with Dhlakama. “[But] Dhlakama told them to turn back at the very last moment,” said the diplomat.
A new round of peace talks resumed last week after they had been halted following the killing of the opposition negotiators in August.
While both sides have agreed in principle to changing the constitution to allow Renamo luminaries to be appointed as provincial governors, the talks have yet to result in a ceasefire.
Renamo, which previously waged a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, has refused to accept the results of 2014 elections when it was beaten once more by the ruling Frelimo party – in power since the former Portuguese colony’s independence 40 years ago.
Renamo’s armed wing has in recent years staged a string of deadly attacks in central Mozambique as it fights to make its voice heard and to secure a greater share of power.
This week’s collapsed negotiations were at contributing to talks that began in May to find a solution to the conflict between the government and Renamo.
The political situation in Mozambique has been tense for months with Dhlakama refusing to recognize the results of the 2014 elections, where the Frelimo party was declared the winner.
The party has been in power since the southern African country’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Dhlakama also threatened to seize power by force in the northern half of the country.
Renamo’s armed wing has conducted a string of fatal assaults in central Mozambique in recent years as it seeks to increase its share of power.
On October 19, the warring sides resumed a new round of peace talks despite the killing of an opposition negotiator on October 9.