A “historic” peace deal between government and opposition forces has been signed in Mozambique. Swiss diplomacy was instrumental in brokering the agreement.
Twenty-seven years after civil war ended in the eastern African nation, leaders of the government and main opposition group signed an agreement on Tuesday in Maputo – the third such attempt to secure lasting peace.
Present at the ceremonyexternal link, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said it was “a historic day” that would provide impetus for building stability both in Mozambique and the surrounding region.
Cassis saluted the efforts of Swiss diplomats who assumed the chairmanship of the international contact group that facilitated talks between the ruling party and the Renamo opposition after violence broke out in 2013.
The Swiss-led negotiations led to a temporary ceasefire in 2016, followed by a more lasting commitment to end fighting a year later, and finally to Tuesday’s peace deal.
“Switzerland has once again made a pivotal contribution through its good offices and neutrality, and especially its outstanding diplomatic professionals,” Cassis added.
The treaty comes just months before national elections in October, which analysts say will be a test for its viability. Renamo has committed to disarming, but the full reintegration of its former fighters into security forces or civilian life will take some time.
Cassis pledged that Switzerland would continue to support Mozambique as it faces up to new challenges: containing an Islamist insurgency in the north, as well as recovering from a devastating cyclone that hit earlier in 2019.
On Wednesday, the foreign minister will visit several Swiss humanitarian projects in the centre of the country, a region particularly affected by cyclone Idai, which left over 1,000 people dead.
Mozambique, which won independence from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975, remains one of the world’s poorest nations, but is finally starting to tap into huge coal and natural gas deposits.
Several multinational corporations are currently competing for the right to develop a massive gas field off the north coast of the country that could be worth some $30 billion.