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Tense Peace Accord Ends Mozambique's 16-Year War

REFORM IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

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THE Mozambican government and rebel leaders signed a historic peace accord in Rome yesterday which has raised tentative hopes that the war-torn country can be rescued from a descent into anarchy.

The accord, which centers around a cease-fire in the 16-year civil war between the government of President Joaquim Chissano and rebels under the leadership of Afonso Dhlakama, paves the way for Mozambique's first democratic elections in 1993. The rebel Mozambican National Resistance Movement (Renamo) will end its guerrilla war and take part in the elections.

The cease-fire was signed after a three-day delay during which it appeared that rebel leader Dhlakama made a new set of demands.

"I think the decisive defeat of Unita in the Angolan election gave Dhlakama second thoughts," said a Western diplomat.

But his main objection centered on the control of what the rebels regard as their territory. Mr. Dhlakama insisted that rebels would be able to remain in these areas in the run-up to next year's democratic poll.

"His demands were tantamount to partitioning the country," said the diplomat. "But he settled for a compromise whereby Frelimo [the ruling Mozambican Liberation Front] troops will not be allowed within five kilometers of Renamo bases during the transition period."

Last-minute objections by Dhlakama to a draft accord signed in Gaborone, Botswana, Aug. 7, delayed the signing of the accord in Rome by three days. His main objection centered on the control of what the rebels regard as their territory. He insisted that Renamo be allowed to remain in these areas in the run-up to next year's poll.

Peace in Mozambique, one of the world's poorest countries, could bolster the faltering democratization process in southern Africa and provide a valuable trading partner for South Africa.

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