AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - "Constructive dialogue" says President Nyusi after meeting with the Bishop of Pemba

Thursday, 3 September 2020 dialogue   local churches   armed groups  

Maputo (Agenzia Fides) - "The Country is experiencing a moment in which there is a need to speak, to dialogue. It is necessary to understand what the other sees and what the other knows. Being religious, this Bishop of ours has a lot of information, because the Church is established here in the territory of the province and has many faithful and priests. We took the opportunity to share information and exchange some ideas", said the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, at the end of the meeting held on 31 August with His Exc. Mgr. Luis Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba. The meeting was held at the invitation of the Bishop at the episcopal palace of Pemba. Mgr. Lisboa thanked the President of the Republic and said that the conversation was "rich" and "fruitful".
The meeting puts an end to two weeks of growing tension between the Church and the State (see Fides, 18/8/2020), during which the Holy Father phoned the Bishop personally (see Fides, 21/8/2020), while the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique has issued a pastoral letter as a sign of solidarity, followed by those of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC, see Fides, 20/8/2020) and the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (see Fides, 21/8/2020).
Mgr. Lisboa added that "the President of the Republic is concerned for the religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry and for the dozens of people who were with them, who disappeared on August 12", in the village of Mocimboa da Praia which was attacked by a group of armed men from the "Central African Province of the Islamic State" (Iscap).
"There is still no information on the two sisters or on the other people, the elderly and children. We are talking about a group of over 60 people", said Mgr. Lisboa.
So far, rebel attacks have remained limited to the areas around Mocimboa da Praia and Macomia, in the north of the province of Cabo Delgado. However, on 28 August the Cabo Delgado National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) presented to the press an alleged insurgent member captured with a briefcase containing five AK47s and six pairs of military uniforms. According to the director of SERNIC in Cabo Delgado, Ntego Crisanto Ntego, this is an operation aimed at moving weapons to Pemba. "History tells us that the insurgents, when they are about to enter a territory, first advance the equipment (ie the weapons) and then arrive dressed as civilians".
According to Calton Cadeado, researcher at the Department of Peace and Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CEEI/ISRI): "Pemba is today a place of great political value for this group of rebels - to demonstrate visibility and power. Like Pemba, there is another place in Cabo Delgado, called Mueda, considered a bastion of the ruling party, the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO). Once attacked, it would mean attacking the heart of the Country's power". "It is necessary to understand how the terrorists will act and where they are hiding to organize their attacks. So far, when they attack, they hide in the bush. But to attack in an urban space, to carry out an urban guerrilla warfare, it is necessary to understand how far their level of commitment and audacity goes", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/9/2020)