Reuters International

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique's opposition party Renamo will not abandon talks with the government, its spokesperson said, after one of its senior officials was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a Maputo beach at the weekend.

The killing of Jeremias Pondeca, a member of the Joint Commission set up to find ways to overcome a standoff between the government and Renamo over a range of issues, came days before the commission was due to resume talks.

But Renamo national spokesperson Antonio Muchanga was quoted by state news agency AIM as saying that the negotiations will go ahead.

"Renamo will continue the negotiations. Even today, if the Joint Commission was in session, Renamo would be willing to take part in the negotiations," Muchanga was quoted as saying.

"This barbaric act, committed by the enemies of democracy and of the well-being of the Mozambican people, is intended to force Renamo to abandon the dialogue," he added.

The talks were meant to resume on Monday after being interrupted on Sept. 30. But the coordinator of the international mediating team, Mario Rafaelli, has announced a further delay to Oct.18, AIM said.

Muchanga said Pondeca will not be replaced as there were still "a reasonable number" of Renamo members on the commission to continue its work.

The commission has so far reached no definitive agreement on any of the matters on its agenda, including Renamo's demands for six provincial governors and the inclusion of its militia in the army and police.

Renamo and the government were on opposing sides in a civil war from the late 1970s until the early 1990s before a peace accord ended the fighting. But it still has its own militia.

In the run-up to elections in October 2014, Renamo partisans clashed sporadically with troops and police. Renamo said it would not take up its parliamentary seats in protest at the results of the election.

(Writing by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


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