Mozambique: Mario Raffaelli Joins Search for Peace

Maputo – Former Italian diplomat Mario Raffaelli, who, as the representative of the Italian government, headed the group of four mediators in the negotiations in Rome that culminated in the 1992 peace agreement between the Mozambican government and the Renamo rebels, has returned to Mozambique, and is once more seeking to restore peace.

Raffaelli met in Maputo on Wednesday with President Filipe Nyusi, and he intends to fly to the central province of Sofala for a meeting with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama at his bush camp somewhere in Gorongosa district.

“This meeting seeks to find paths to peace”, Manuel Mazuze, advisor to Nyusi on diplomatic and international matters, told reporters. “Mario Raffaelli came on this mission to speak to the parties involved, and today he met with the President of the Republic. We believe that he will also speak with the Renamo leadership”.

Asked whether Raffaelli has come to Mozambique at the government’s invitation, Mazuze replied that “he is a friend of the Mozambican people, and so it is normal that he should feel obliged to help the country restore peace”.

Nyusi has repeatedly invited Dhlakama to attend a face-to-face meeting to discuss establishing a lasting peace, and Dhlakama has repeatedly turned the invitations down. Whereas Nyusi has called for a dialogue with no pre-conditions, Dhlakama has insisted on the presence of international mediators – namely the Catholic Church, the European Union and South African President Jacob Zuma.

Dhlakama is also threatening to seize power in six northern and central provinces (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa), though it is hard to imagine how he can meet his self-imposed deadline of 31 March for this coup.

Renamo has reverted to its military option, with sporadic ambushes against vehicles on the main roads in central Mozambique since mid-February. According to Inacio Dina, spokesperson for the General Command of the police, last week there were eight Renamo attacks against civilian and military targets in Sofala, Manica and Zambezia, which resulted in three deaths. A further 23 people were injured.

Source: All Africa