MAPUTO– Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has promoted three military officers who had once been members of the rebel movement Renamo as part of the consensus he has reached with the current Renamo national co-ordinator, Ossufo Momade.

Xavier Antonio and Araujo Maciacona are both promoted from colonel to brigadier, while navy captain Inacio Luis Vaz is promoted to commodore. All three are officers who joined the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) when it was formed in 1994 out of a merger of volunteers from the disbanded government army, the FAM/FPLM, and Renamo, an armed anti-colonial rebel movement, now the leading opposition party.

Nyusi promoted a fourth officer, Ibraimo Abibo, from the rank of captain to that of commodore. This promotion was proposed by the Defence Ministry, and Nyusi consulted the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS).

The promotion of the former Renamo officers is part of the package that Nyusi had been negotiating with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama prior to the latter’s sudden death from diabetes on May 3. Nyusi resumed the discussions with Momade, but few details have yet been made public.

From the government’s perspective, the purpose of the negotiations is to demilitarise Renamo, ending the anomalous situation whereby a political party has its own militia. If the negotiations are successful, the Renamo militia will be disarmed and disbanded, and its members recruited into the FADM and the police, or reintegrated into civilian life.

Renamo has also demanded the re-instatement of officers originally from Renamo whom it claims have been sidelined and marginalised within the FADM.