Mozambique's Renamo to Demilitarize, Opening Way for Polls

(Bloomberg) -- Mozambique’s main opposition agreed to a process that will see it lay down its weapons, potentially removing a key obstacle to local elections planned for October but threatened by delays amid a dispute with the ruling Frelimo party.

Frelimo had refused to pass a new electoral law until the Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana, or Renamo, disarmed. The two sides, which fought a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992 and left as many as a million people dead, have been in peace talks after fighting flared up again in 2013. The electoral commission last week postponed preparations for local elections scheduled to be held in October without the procedural law.

President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo interim leader Ossufo Momade announced the agreement in a joint statement posted on the presidency’s website Wednesday. The two parties must still sign a formal agreement for the integration of Renamo fighters into the police and defense forces and parliament must pass a new electoral law, Nyusi said separately in comments broadcast over state-owned television.

“Both parties reaffirmed their full commitment to the achievement of effective and definitive peace, as well as a genuine reconciliation among Mozambicans,” according to the statement.

The demilitarization of the opposition’s armed wing is the second part of a process that began with the two political parties agreeing to change the constitution so that provincial governors are selected by the political party that wins the most votes in each region. Lawmakers approved the changes in May.

The next step is for Renamo to provide the government within 10 days a list of people in its armed wing to be integrated, said Momade, who took the reins of the main opposition in May after ex-guerilla fighter Afonso Dhlakama died.

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