ROME, 4 OCTOBER – Mozambique marks today 25 years of peace. On October 4th, 1992 the 16-year civil war ended in the African country with a peace treaty signed in Rome by Joaquim Alberto Chissano, then President of Mozambique and chief of the FRELIMO (The Mozambique Liberation Front), and Afonso Dhlakama, leader of RENAMO (The Mozambican National Resistance), an armed group fighting against the Maputo’s government. An estimated one million Mozambicans died during the civil war that caused also 3-4 million civilians displaced internally and in neighboring countries.
Despite gruesome battles , extreme poverty and social dislocation, the southern African nation reached peace thanks to the successful mediation of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which has its headquarters in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere. There, 25 years ago, the negotiations was brokered by a team of four mediators: two members of the Community of Sant’Egidio, the founder Andrea Riccardi and the then priest Matteo Zuppi, now bishop of Bologna, as well as Bishop Jaime Gonçalves and Italian government representative, Mario Raffaelli. The team waved patiently a pattern of dialogue struggling against ideological and power-hungry perspectives, supporting instead a negotiating framework in the name of the unity of the Mozambican people, finally finding common ground dispite the deep diverging interests of the two Mozambican Civil War parties.
The Rome General Peace Accords established the delivery of the RENAMO’s weapons to the UN forces, the integration of the rebel soldiers into the regular army, demining and pacification procedures of rural areas, as well as a series of steps intended to transform the armed clash into a political confrontation based on constitutional and democratic rules. The 1994 elections, the first truly free in the former Portuguese colony, ensured the success of the negotiating path and opened the door to Mozambique to a new peaceful season.
Peace has set in motion a process of normalization, boosting economic and social growth in the African country which, once healed the wounds, was able to focus on the urgent needs of the population: infrastructure and communications networks were rebuilded, as well as the educational and health system.
The Sant’Egidio Community is still close to Mozambique: the goal is to win peace, even after the war, peace. In 25 years everything has changed, both economically and socially. FRELIMO has dismantled the Marxist ideology stirring the military to action and has become a firm believer in free market. The party that had previously led the country to join the Comecon, the economic organization of the communist countries looking to Moscow, ended up launching a plan of the most extensive and radical privatization.
(@onuitalia, 4 October 2017)