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Peace in Mozambique: German involvement in the process to disarm former combatants Mozambique

Fishing boats in the Maputo harbour

The impact of the civil war continues to make itself felt in Mozambique, © blickwinkel

24.01.2020 - Article

Last year, the Government and the opposition in Mozambique signed a peace accord designed to stabilise the country in the long term. The large numbers of small arms from the many years of civil war threaten peaceful co-existence.

The Federal Government is engaged in the process to disarm former combatants.

Following years of unrest, new hope recently sprang up for a more peaceful future in Mozambique: Mozambique: on track towards peace. Yet events in the past have shown how fragile such a peace agreement can be. Armed groups and the large numbers of small arms that have entered the country as a result of the many years of conflict pose a threat to the security of the people.

Disarming former combatants is therefore a crucial element of the national peace plan. The plan stipulates concrete steps: former rebel fighters have participated in a process which involved them laying down their weapons, disbanding their combat units and reintegrating themselves into Mozambican society.

Support from a German Major for the disarmament process

Major Wedeniwski with his colleagues from Switzerland and Argentina conducting functionality tests on weapons
Major Wedeniwski with his colleagues from Switzerland and Argentina conducting functionality tests on weapons© Auswärtiges Amt/Wedeniswki

Germany has provided active support for the process of demobilisation through various measures. At the request of the Mozambican Government, Major Laurentius Wedeniwski, expert for small arms control at the Federal Armed Forces Verification Centre, has been working as part of an international group of experts to disarm the fighters. In this role he was able to draw on many years of experience with stabilising crisis regions in the Balkans and in Africa.

His first step was to draw up a schedule for the disarmament process together with the two parties to the conflict. Every detail was important. The schedule set down precisely how the fighters were to surrender their weapons and what should happen to the remaining stocks. For disarmament can only succeed, step by step, if all sides agree. The next step was implementation, a process which has also been flanked by Major Wedeniwski and his international colleagues.

Preserving peace in the long term

Major Wedeniwski assists with the registration and marking of weapons and ammunition
Major Wedeniwski assists with the registration and marking of weapons and ammunition© Auswärtiges Amt/Wedeniswki

After gaining its independence from Portugal, Mozambique was blighted by civil war for 15 years. Even after the peace agreement of 1992, peace remained fragile. Following many years of negotiations, the new peace accord marks a fresh attempt to finally end the violence in the country and the civil war that has been smouldering for decades.

The disarmament process is a crucial factor in this attempt. For it is the only way to restore the state monopoly on the use of force and prevent a brutal flare-up of the decades-long conflict. The security of the people and the basis for peace and prosperity in this young nation in southeast Africa hinge on this process.

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