MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE —
Mozambique’s opposition party Renamo will not abandon talks with the government, its spokesperson said, after one of its senior officials was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a Maputo beach Saturday.
The killing of Jeremias Pondeca, a member of the Joint Commission set up to find ways to overcome a standoff between the government and Renamo over a range of issues, came days before the commission was to resume talks.
Renamo national spokesperson Antonio Muchanga said negotiations will go forward, according to state news agency AIM.
“Renamo will continue the negotiations. Even today, if the Joint Commission was in session, Renamo would be willing to take part in the negotiations,” Muchanga was quoted as saying.
“This barbaric act, committed by the enemies of democracy and of the well-being of the Mozambican people, is intended to force Renamo to abandon the dialogue,” he added.
The talks were to resume Monday after being interrupted September 30. But the coordinator of the international mediating team, Mario Rafaelli, has announced a further delay to October 18, AIM said.
Muchanga said Pondeca would not be replaced because there are “a reasonable number” of Renamo members on the commission to continue its work.
FILE - Afonso Dhlakama, a former Renamo rebel chief turned opposition leader who is seeking the Mozambican presidency for the fifth time, shows his ink-stained finger after casting his ballot at a polling station in Maputo as Mozambicans vote in 2009.
The commission has so far reached no definitive agreement on any of the matters on its agenda, including Renamo’s demands for six provincial governors and the inclusion of its militia in the army and police.
Renamo and the government were on opposing sides in a civil war from the late 1970s until the early 1990s before a peace accord ended the fighting. But it still has its own militia.
In the run-up to elections in October 2014, Renamo partisans clashed sporadically with troops and police. Renamo said it would not take up its parliamentary seats in protest at the results of the election.