Mozambique frees opposition party fighters
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Members of Mozambique’s opposition party who were arrested during recent clashes have been released, the country’s justice minister announced.
The justice ministry granted amnesty to Renamo supporters involved in clashes with government forces, Benvinda Levy said, speaking in the capital Maputo on Wednesday evening.
Renamo’s head of negotiations Simon Macuine said about 200 fighters were released.
They were part of a group of hundreds of men identified as Renamo fighters who were arrested by riot police and security forces, said Levy. The justice ministry asked Renamo to identify any more supporters who were still detained so that they too could be freed.
The released Renamo men were accused of committing crimes ranging from killing civilians, to illegal possession of weapons and destroying property. As part of the peace agreement, Renamo fighters will be integrated into the Mozambican Armed Forces.
Amnesty has also been extended to government troops who were involved in the clashes.
The amnesty agreement came after talks to end the violence in Renamo’s strongholds and ensure a peaceful election. Clashes erupted last year after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama left the coalition government, saying his party and its supporters were being sidelined by the ruling Frelimo party.
Following Dhlakama’s action, Mozambique’s central provinces experienced sporadic violence until a peace accord was signed weeks before the national election on October 15.
Observers declared the October elections as mostly peaceful and the Frelimo party won about 57 percent and Renamo gained its highest result yet at just over a third of the vote.
Renamo was once a rebel movement that fought the Frelimo government in the southeastern African nation’s brutal civil war, which lasted from 1977 to 1992.