Peace Accord Signed Ahead of Elections in Mozambique By Phillip Howard
An agreement was reached between the two major parties in Mozambique, putting an end to increased tensions in recent years. The agreement, titled the Peace and National Reconciliation Agreement, signed by President and ruling party Frelimo leader Felipe Nyusi, and opposition leader Ossufo Momade, states that both leaders promise to peacefully participate in elections, which are set to start on October 15.
The deal also calls for the immediate disarmament and reintegration of more than 5,000 rebels into society, with some Renamo officers taking up leadership positions in the military. Mozambique’s legislature also amended the country’s constitution so that provincial governors would be elected, rather than appointed by the ruling party. This move is seen as providing an opportunity for the opposition Renamo to win some provincial governorships, especially in the Central and Northern parts of the country, where they hold the most support.
Upon signing the agreement, President Nyusi told a cheering crowd in front of the Gorongosa National Park that “we are living in a moment of hope” and that the signing of the deal at the site of where Mozambique’s long conflict began would now become a “sanctuary of peace and diversity.” After gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique dealt with a long civil war, lasting from the late-1970s until a peace agreement was signed in 1992.
Renamo leader Momade also echoed the sentiments of Nyusi, staying that “we are now brothers in peace…with this signing we are showing all Mozambicans and the world that we have buried our legacy of violence and now are committed to dialogue to resolve our differences.”
Internationally, the news has been welcome. Several world leaders were among the spectators to witness the signing of the agreement. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry commended in a statement the efforts made by President Nyusi in reaching a deal.
In speaking on the deal, Neha Sanghrajka, a negotiator for the deal, said that “this agreement has historic significance because up until now Mozambique has had an opposition party in parliament that also has armed fighters in he countryside. Now there can be peace.”
Dennis Hearne, the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique, stated that this is an “exciting time of positive transformation” in Mozambique, highlighting the nation’s growing energy sector and his hopes on further economic growth.
Some questions still remain about the deal, including how Mozambique is going to disarm over 5,000 Renamo guerillas ahead of elections in October. Opposition leader Momade dismissed those claims, calling those opposed to the agreement as undisciplined fugitives.
Other questions remain on how former Remano militant leaders will integrate into the military. Critics have called the deal “elitist” since it was not communicated clearly to ordinary citizens.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College