Africa

Zimbabwe warns Mozambique's Renamo not to resume war

Taken in Mozambique's Gorongosa's mountains in November 2012 - fighters of former rebel movement Renamo receive military training Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fears are growing that the civil war could resume

Zimbabwe has urged rebels in Mozambique not to fight, after an opposition group with military and political wings withdrew from a 1992 peace deal.

Zimbabwe's Deputy Foreign Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa told the BBC that he would not countenance a return to civil war in Mozambique.

The Renamo movement, thought to have about 1,000 fighters as well as 51 MPs, ended the peace accord on Monday.

Mozambique's 1976-1992 civil war led to about a million deaths.

Mr Mutsvangwa said Renamo should rejoin the political process, not threaten regional stability.

He told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama should "never, never" return to violence.

"Southern Africa will not countenance this. We simply do not need this in this region at this juncture," he said.

He added that regional body Sadc (Southern African Development Community) would consider sending troops to help the government if the security situation deteriorated.

"It will be misguided for Renamo to bring instability and expect Zimbabwe to watch," he said.

'Move back from brink'

Renamo pulled out of the peace accord after government forces captured Mr Dhlakama's base in the Gorongosa mountains in central Mozambique on Monday, forcing him to flee.

Rebel fighters retaliated by opening fire on a police station in the town of Maringue, about 35km (20 miles) from the base, state-run Radio Mozambique reported.

The US has urged the two sides to "move back from the brink".

"We are encouraging the two parties to take visible and decisive steps to de-escalate the current tense environment," said US state department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

Mozambique's economy has been booming in recent years, with the discovery of a major offshore gas field in 2011.

Mozambican mediator Lourenco do Rosario said he had held talks with Renamo to ease tension.

He said Renamo leaders had told him they did not want to return to war.

Renamo MPs attended a parliamentary session on Wednesday, despite pulling out of the peace accord.

"We are continuing our work as usual," senior Renamo MP Vicente Ululu told the BBC.

Renamo's 51 MPs make it the largest opposition party.

Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza, who is touring the central region, called on Mr Dhlakama to resume dialogue with the government.

Mr Ululu said he did not believe the president was serious about talks.

Renamo was supported by South Africa's former white-minority regime during the civil war that raged after Mozambique's independence in 1975.

After Robert Mugabe came to power in Zimbabwe, he backed Mozambique's Frelimo government.

Renamo has contested elections since the end of the civil war, but has failed to dislodge Frelimo from power

Mozambique is due to hold local elections in November, and presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

Renamo has complained that the Frelimo government is determined to hold on to power and has failed to create conditions for free and fair elections.

Frelimo denies the allegations and says Renamo does not have support among voters.

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