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Mozambique president, opposition leader sign peace agreement

Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, center, performs a dance with locals

Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, center, performs a dance with locals

The president of Mozambique and the head of opposition group Renamo signed a peace deal on Thursday, formally ending years of conflict between the two factions.

The peace agreement puts a cap on a history of violence in the country. After gaining independence from Portugal, Renamo fought a civil war against the Mozambique government that left over a million people dead, before a peace deal was signed in 1992.

Since 1992, Renamo had participated in national elections, but the party still remained armed. On occasion, tensions flared into conflict.

“This agreement has historic significance because up 'til now Mozambique has had an opposition party in parliament that also has armed fighters in the countryside. Now there can be peace,” said Neha Sanghrajka, a negotiator on the peace deal, told the Associated Press.

President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade signed the deal at Gorongosa National Park, near Renamo headquarters and a place of symbolic significance.

“Gorongosa was where the war started and now it is where it ends,” said Momade. “This agreement gives people hope that there will be lasting peace.”

Talks began in 2016 under then-Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama. When he died unexpectedly of a heart attack, Momade took the reigns. Prior agreements have fallen apart over allegations of impropriety in elections.

Earlier this week, Mozambique's parliament passed an amnesty bill for any crimes committed as a result of the conflict since 2014.

Momade said he sought to turn a new page in Renamo's history. 

“We will no longer commit the mistakes of the past,” he said, according to AP.  “We are for a humanized and dignified reintegration and we want the international community to help make that a reality."

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