Thursday, January 13, 2022

Mozambique opposition leader Dhlakama dies


Mozambique's main opposition Renamo party said on Thursday evening that its long-serving leader, Afonso Dhlakama, has died of a heart attack. He was 65.

Mr Dhlakama led Renamo during a 15-year rebellion against the Mozambican government, which ended in 1992.

He was supported by white-led governments in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia.

Renamo was accused of mass killings, mutilations and the use of child soldiers.

After the end of the civil war, Renamo became Mozambique's main opposition party.

Its supporters continued to periodically clash with government forces.

Former BBC journalist Zenaiado Machado says Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi has called Afonso Dhlakama's death "a very bad moment".

The two leaders had recently held meetings and Mr Dhlakama was seen as having a key role in Mozambique's developing peace process.

It's a very bad moment, especially for me. We were solving the problems of this country. I tried to transfer my brother out of the country, but I couldn't.

I'm very depressed. I was not given enough time [to help him]… they did not inform me that he had been sick for a week. I was informed just a day ago."

Filipe Nyusi
President of Mozambique
"Mr Dhlakama's death and the unknown succession plan within Renamo will bring uncertainty," says Zenaida Machado, now a Mozambique specialist at Human Rights Watch.

"It raises critical questions about the next Renamo leader's ability to control hundreds of armed men in the bush and negotiate a long-lasting peace deal with the government."

She says Mr Dhlakama will be remembered for challenging the abuses of the governing Frelimo party, but also for allowing his own forces to commit serious human rights violations with impunity.


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