Unidentified gunmen have killed Jeremias Pondeca, a former member of Parliament from the rebel movement Renamo and a member of the Joint Commission set up between the government and Renamo to prepare a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

Renamo national spokesman Antonio Muchanga said here Sunday that Pondeca was shot dead on Maputo’s Costa do Sol beach on Saturday morning.

Pondeca habitually exercised on the beach, and he was killed during this daily exercise routine. He was not carrying any identification documents and his body was not immediately identified.

Muchanga said Pondeca’s family informed Renamo on Sunday morning that he was missing. A check revealed that a murder had occurred on the beach, and the body had been taken to the Maputo morgue. Renamo confirmed that it was indeed Pondeca.

Pondeca was a prominent Renamo parliamentary deputy between 1995 and 2004. He was a member of the Council of State, an advisory body to the President of the Republic, and earlier this year Renamo appointed him as one of its members on the government-Renamo Joint Commission.

Pondeca headed the Renamo team on the sub-commission tasked with drafting new or amended legislation in the area of decentralization. His murder comes just before the Joint Commission is due to resume its work.

The last meeting of the Commission took place on Sept 30, and the co-ordinator of the international mediating team, Mario Raffaelli, then announced that the talks were being suspended until Oct 10 in order to allow the government and Renamo delegations time to establish the methodology to be used in future discussions in an attempt to achieve consensus as quickly as possible.

Despite holding 20 meetings, the Joint Commission has so far reached no definitive agreement on any of the matters on its agenda, which includes Renamo’s demand for six provincial governors, a cessation of hostilities, the inclusion of members of the Renamo militia in the army and police, and the disarming of Renamo.