Mozambique names top ex-rebels to army command

Renamo's interim leader, Momade Ossufo

Mozambique has appointed three top commanders of Renamo, Mozambique's largest opposition party and former rebel movement, to key army command posts as part of peace-building efforts between the government and Renamo.

The appointments following a deal struck between Renamo's interim leader, Momade Ossufo, and President Filipe Nyusi in July are a first step towards comprehensive peace, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement Tuesday.

Renamo's generals were named to the key positions of Director of Operations, Director of the Military Information, and Director of Communications.

Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Frelimo government that left one million people dead before the fighting stopped in 1992.

The peace talks began in December 2016 when Renamo declared a unilateral truce to end the armed conflict that re-erupted in 2013.

"The appointments are the result of the agreements reached between (Nyusi)... and the Renamo coordinator," the ministry of defence said in a statement.

The deal would help foster "peace, harmony, national reconciliation and the strengthening of democracy, and trigger the process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of RENAMO" fighters into the regular army, it added.

As part of peace negotiations, Renamo's armed wing is being integrated into the armed forces to facilitate the disarmament of opposition paramilitaries.

Former Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who died in 2017, played an important role in the search for peace, and began the process of negotiating a peace agreement with President Nyusi.

Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975.