Reuters International

MAPUTO (Reuters) - A senior official of Mozambique's Renamo opposition party was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a Maputo beach, Renamo's national spokesperson was quoted as saying, potentially blocking progress in its talks with the government.

The killing of Jeremias Pondeca, a member of the Joint Commission set up to find solutions in the standoff between the government and Renamo, comes days before the commission was due to resume its work. It was not immediately clear if it would do so following the shooting.

Pondeca was shot while exercising on the beach on Saturday, Renamo spokesman Antonio Muchanga was quoted as saying by state news agency AIM.

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

The commission was set up to prepare the ground for a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. There has been no progress towards such a meeting yet, with Dhlakama saying he had no interest in meeting Nyusi before signing a final agreement, the agency reported.

Pondeca was also a member of the Council of State, an advisory body to the president.

In the run-up to elections in October 2014, Renamo partisans clashed sporadically with troops and police. Renamo has said it would not take up its parliamentary seats in protest against the southern African country's election results.

(Writing by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


 Reuters International