Mozambique’s main opposition party Renamo on Monday boycotted peace talks with the ruling Frelimo for the second time, raising tensions further in the country where sporadic clashes between the army and rebel gunmen have resumed.
Peace talks were introduced two years ago after Renamo began low-level insurgencies against the government, two decades after its devastating 16-year civil war with Frelimo ended.
A ceasefire agreement was signed last year by former president Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, allowing the latter to run in the October presidential election.
One year and around 114 rounds of dialogue later however, the ceasefire still has not been fully implemented with Renamo blaming the government’s failure to integrate rebel soldiers into the army and police.
In recent weeks, Renamo has announced the creation of two military bases, and just last week, the opposition party’s Dhlakama announced the creation of a separate Renamo police force, and.
Low-key clashes between Renamo and the military have resumed in recent months in the central coal-rich Tete province, forcing people to flee to the neighbouring Malawi.
Meditators seem to believe that only a high-level meeting between the president and the Renamo leader will defuse the tension. Dhlakama has however officially rejected invitations sent by the presidency.
On Saturday, Dhlakama’s convoy was hit by gunfire as he returned from a rally in the central Manica province but he escaped unhurt.
He later declared it a “planned attack” by Frelimo, an accusation which the police denied.