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Mozambique Opposition Leader Issues Ultimatum

Rebel leader of former Mozambican rebel movement Renamo turned opposition party chief, Afonso Dhlakama, gives a press conference, April 10, 2013, in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique (file photo).

Mozambique’s ruling FRELIMO party reneged on a gentleman’s agreement between President Filipe Nyusi and main opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama to help resolve the dispute surrounding last year’s election, according to Eduardo Namburete, head of external relations for the opposition RENAMO.

The opposition has refused to accept Nyusi election and rejected the vote as rigged and fraught with irregularities, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court confirming him as president.

Opposition members of parliament refused to be seated in parliament in protest of the poll.

Namburete said opposition lawmakers returned to parliament only after the gentleman’s agreement between the opposition leader and President Nyusi.

“As a way of resolving this political crisis, we proposed that we should been given a chance to rule in the provinces where we got majority of the votes. During the meeting between Afonso Dhlakama and President Nyusi, it was agreed that, that would be a possible solution the [post] election crisis and the president [Nyusi] suggested that Dhlakama should submit a bill to the parliament and it will be taken from there,” said Namburete.

“To our surprise, the ruling party in parliament did not even consider discussing this bill. They just voted it out so that there is no discussion going on at this point within the parliament,” he added.

Instability threats

Leading opposition member Namburete denied media reports that RENAMO wants to destabilize the country.

“In our view what was defeated was not RENAMO, what was defeated was the will of the people and we are sending back the message to the people of Mozambique especially those in the Center and the Northern part of the country that the ruling party has said no to our proposal to allow the people of the Center and North of the country to be ruled by those who were voted for in those provinces,” he said.

Namburete says opposition leader Dhlakama has issued an ultimatum to the government to keep its part of the agreement or meet with him to resolve the impasse.

“[He] has given a period of two months for FRELIMO to reconsider its position, before further measures are taken by RENAMO and by the people,” Namburete said.

Supporters of the ruling party say Mozambicans want the peace they currently enjoy maintained. They accused the opposition of threatening to embark on a conflict, which they said could plunge the country into chaos and instability. Namburete denied the opposition is beating the war drum.

“We are not proposing war,” said Namburete. “People are taking our stance very wrongly. But we are saying we are not going just to cross our hands and wait and just watch things happening. Of course the ultimate decision will be the people’s decision. If the people decide that they don’t want a FRELIMO government in those provinces where RENAMO won, then the people will take that decision.”

Namburete says the government could create tension if it cracks down on protests by supporters in the opposition strongholds.

“The security of RENAMO will just not sit and watch, it will have to react,” he said.

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