Mozambique extends stay for foreign military observers

Mozambique has extended the mission of foreign military observers deployed across the southern African country since October to ensure post-election peace.

AFP| Updated: Feb 24, 2015, 16:14 PM IST

Maputo: Mozambique has extended the mission of foreign military observers deployed across the southern African country since October to ensure post-election peace.

The country`s two main parties "have agreed in principal to prolong" the mandate of the mission, Agriculture Minister Jaso Pacheco said at a press conference late Monday.

The soldiers are part of a 90-plus observer mission tasked with helping maintain peace between the Frelimo-led government and opposition party Renamo.

The mission includes 23 military experts from Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Italy, Portugal and Britain. There are also 70 local soldiers headed by a Botswana brigadier.

The agriculture minister, who has been heading Frelimo`s discussions with Renamo, said however that the two parties could not agree on a timeframe for the extension of the mission, which was set to expire Monday.

Renamo and Frelimo waged a 16-year war that ended in 1992 and killed an estimated one million people.

After a 20-year hiatus, supporters of Renamo`s leader Afonso Dhlakama began a low-level insurgency in late 2012.

A deal was reached last September to end that second, less bloody, conflict.

But after Frelimo won the October election with 57 percent to Renamo`s 37 percent, Dhlakama cried foul, boycotting the inauguration of new president Felipe Nyusi and shunning the opening of parliament.

He threatened to form a parallel government in parts of the country where his party came out top in the election.

Two weeks ago, he announced his party would table a bill giving more autonomy to the country`s 11 provinces. His party won the majority of votes in five of them during the October election.

Dhlakama, a former rebel leader, has disputed the outcome of every poll since 1990.