Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi. Picture: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi. Picture: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Maputo — Renamo, Mozambique’s main opposition movement, has agreed to a process that will lead to it laying down its weapons.

The agreement could remove a key obstacle to local elections that are planned for October but which have threatened by delays amid a dispute with the ruling Frelimo party.

Frelimo had refused to pass a new electoral law until the Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana, or Renamo, disarmed.

The two sides, which fought a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992 and left as many as a million people dead, have been in peace talks after fighting flared up again in 2013.

The electoral commission last week postponed preparations for local elections scheduled to be held in October without the procedural law.

The agreement was announced on Wednesday on state television by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo co-ordinator Ossufo Momade.

The deal includes an apparent breakthrough over the integration of former rebels into the police and army.

"The (Renamo) leadership agreed with us. We will continue with the procedures that we have been implementing, the integration in the police … it will be possible," Nyusi told reporters.

"The main thing is to give assurance to our MPs and to society in general that the process will not stop."

Momade said: "From the conversation we had with the head of state, we reached the consensus that it is possible to integrate (the Renamo armed wing) into the police."

The demilitarisation of the opposition’s armed wing is the second part of a process that began with the two political parties agreeing to change the constitution so that provincial governors are selected by the political party that wins the most votes in each region. Legislators approved the changes in May.

The next step is for Renamo to provide the government, within 10 days, with a list of people in its armed wing to be integrated, said Momade, who took the reins of the main opposition in May after former guerilla fighter Afonso Dhlakama died.

A formal declaration of the deal was expected shortly, Nyusi said.

The 65-year-old Dhlakama played a key role in advancing the peace process with Nyusi, but his death from a suspected heart attack threw the talks into doubt.

Bloomberg and AFP