Mozambique opposition leader plans new offensive in north
17 December 2015, 09:37
Maputo - The leader of Mozambique's Renamo opposition party, Afonso Dhlakama, broke a weeks-long silence on Wednesday to claim he plans to take over the country's north in March or April.
Speaking by telephone in a videoconference in Maputo, the longtime leader who has not appeared in public since October 9 said he was alive and well, slamming "the propaganda orchestrated by those who have always wanted [him] dead."
Dhlakama, who has led Renamo since 1979, was speaking from the central town of Satunjira, where he sought refuge after his house in the city of Beira was surrounded by police who forced his personal guard to surrender their weapons.
Renamo, which waged a 16-year civil war in the southern African nation until 1992, has repeatedly threatened to take power by force in central and northern Mozambique, where there have been a number of recent skirmishes.
The government has vowed to disarm the group, which has refused to accept the results of elections last year that returned the long-ruling Frelimo party to power.
Dhlakama said Wednesday that he planned to name governors and administrators in each of the six provinces where he topped the October 2014 vote.
He reiterated that he did not want war and would "occupy the provinces democratically and politically" but exercise his "right of defence" in case the government resisted militarily.
Moving to reassure foreign investors eyeing the country's huge gas and coal reserves, he vowed that Renamo fighters would not attack infrastructure.
"There will be no ambushes," he said.