Mozambique opposition leader Dhlakama returns to capital to sign peace pact

by Reuters
Thursday, 4 September 2014 17:50 GMT

(Adds details and background)

MAPUTO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Mozambique's opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama returned to the capital on Thursday after two years in hiding, to ratify a pact between his Renamo party and the government ending hostilities ahead of an Oct. 15 election, a Reuters witness said.

Dhlakama, whose party has engaged in two years of sporadic clashes with President Armando Guebuza's security forces, chatted to supporters after landing at Maputo's airport, but did not address journalists.

Renamo and the Frelimo government formally signed a peace pact last week, paving the way for Dhlakama to leave his hideaway in the bush and contest next month's presidential vote.

The former rebel leader was due to add his signature to the peace agreement together with Guebuza on Friday, officials said.

Clashes between Renamo guerrillas and security forces over the last two years had raised fears of the return of civil war, which ravaged Mozambique from 1975 to 1992.

The southern African state is trying to rebuild its economy by developing big coal and offshore gas deposits with foreign investors.

Dhlakama, whose party has lost every election to Frelimo since the end of the civil war, had fled back to the bush after accusing the ruling party of an unfair monopoly on political and economic power. (Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Writing by Stella Mapenzauswa; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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