President Guebuza commits to avoid Armed Conflict

Local and international fears of a renewed armed conflict in Mozambique have been addressed by Mozambique’s president Armando Guebuza, who yesterday renewed his country’s commitment to peace and stability, amid clashes with revived rebel grouping RENAMO and a wave of ransom kidnappings. “Despite the armed attacks by RENAMO, we all continue committed and determined to consolidate national unity, peace and democracy, while working on the challenges,” Guebuza told parliament in his annual State of the Nation address.

“We don’t want war in Mozambique. War should be consigned to science fiction, video games, books and films.” Emphasising the need for national unity, the president reiterated his willingness to meet Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who is in hiding since his military base fell to government forces in the centre of the country in October. “The government is committed to consolidate a climate of peace and calmness in our beloved fatherland,” said Guebuza. “With national unity we have Mozambique. Without national unity Mozambique doesn’t exist. Without Mozambique there are no Mozambicans.”

Deadly skirmishes between FRELIMO-government forces and former civil war foe RENAMO, also the official opposition, have followed escalating tensions this year. The two parties fought a brutal near 16-year civil war that ended in 1992 after the deaths of around one million people.

h3. Fears of a Return to Civil War

But from April gunmen reportedly from RENAMO have attacked civilian vehicles on the main north-south highway, and scores have died in clashes between the group’s militants and soldiers in the centre of the country. The government overran RENAMO’s former military headquarters in the central Gorongosa mountains late October 2013. The clashes have raised local fears of a return to civil war, though analysts have downplayed the likelihood. Guebuza blamed RENAMO for the failure of several rounds of talks between the two groups. The former rebels are demanding parity with FRELIMO officials in electoral bodies, ahead of presidential polls next year.

The president also strongly condemned a wave of ransom kidnappings in urban centres, a crime which police have battled to contain and indeed sometimes have been implicated in. “These crimes are the height of disrespect for human dignity. They express moral insanity and underscore contempt for the most basic values of citizenship.”

Authorities say over 60 people have been kidnapped for ransom over the past two years.

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