Mozambique’s president and the leader of the former rebel group Renamo have signed a landmark peace deal in Maputo, ending a two-year conflict that has rekindled memories of a brutal civil war.
President Armando Guebuza and Afonso Dhlakama, who came out of hiding on Thursday, signed the deal on Friday in front of about 100 diplomats and dignitaries.
The two leaders embraced prompting jubilant cries and clapping from those gathered, the AFP news agency reported.
For two years government forces and fighters loyal to Dhlakama have clashed, with the rebel leader accusing the state of reneging on a peace deal that ended Mozambique’s brutal civil war.
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Around one million died as a result of the 15-year conflict, which ended in 1992.
In the recent clashes, Dhlakama’s supporters attacked buses and cars on the country’s main north-south highway, while government forces raided his bush hideout.
Dhlakama hailed the deal on Friday as an “important step forward,” but also accused the government of “intolerance”.
“After the beautiful dream of two decades ago when peace seemed to be for always, we saw a systematic concentration of power in the hands of those in power … many are in this room,” Dhlakama said.
He added that he “hoped today’s accord can bring to an end the one-party state”.
Mozambique has been ruled by civil war victors Frelimo since independence.
The party is expected to handily win upcoming elections in October. There were fears that the polls could be marred by violence.
Dhlakama has lost every presidential election since 1994 and Renamo is struggling to retain its status as the biggest opposition party.
The peace deal will see Renamo fighters integrated into the military and the party given a greater say in election oversight bodies.