Last rebel fighters in Mozambique surrender after historic peace deal
London, August 1, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and Ossufo Momade, leader of the Renamo opposition, signed a peace accord Thursday ending years of hostilities that followed a 15-year civil war.
The signing took place at Renamo’s remote military base in the Gorongosa mountains in central Mozambique, 27 years after the end of the country’s first civil war.
The two leaders hugged after penning the deal on a mounted stage in Gorongosa.
Thursday’s agreement brought an end to a long peace negotiation process initiated by Renamo’s historic leader, Afonso Dhlakama, who died in May last year, and comes just months before general elections in October.
It also comes as Nyusi’s administration is battling a jihadist insurgency in the northern parts of the country which has claimed more than 250 lives since October 2017.
Soon after Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975, Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Frelimo government, a conflict that left one million people dead before the fighting stopped in 1992.
The rebel movement then entered politics after a 1992 peace pact which was signed in Rome, paving the way for multi-party elections in 1994.
The former rebel group’s remaining fighters are disarming just weeks before a visit by Pope Francis and a national election that will test the now-political rivals’ new resolve.
The permanent cease-fire is the culmination of years of negotiations to end fighting that has flared up several times in the more than 25 years since the end of the civil war in which an estimated 1 million people died.
Pope Francis said he is going to the 30 million people southern African country to push for reconciliation.
The Catholic church in Mozambique helped to negotiate a ceasefire in 1992 and has encouraged peace since then.
The accord will be followed by another agreement to be signed in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, on August 6 pledging peace in the October 15 national elections.
Previous elections have been marred by violence with Renamo claiming that the ruling Frelimo party rigged the results.
Renamo, which is the Portuguese acronym for National Resistance of Mozambique, became an opposition party after the civil war but had never fully disarmed until now.