A Conference remembering the 25 years from the signing of the peace in Mozambique: The Italian model that has given hope to Africa
October 4 2017 - ROME, ITALYPeaceMozambiqueAndrea Riccardi
A Peace made by mediators without vested interests and who believed that peace was always possible
Twenty-five years have passed since October 4th, 1992, a Sunday in which, after a lengthy negotiation process held at the center of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Frelimo and Renamo's delegations signed the General Agreement of Rome in the Aula of the International Conferences at the Farnesina.
It is here that today a conference was held to remember and review the steps of what has been called the "Italian peace", an agreement that has helped one of the poorest countries in the world find, along with peace, the path for demographic and economic development.
Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, who was one of the architects of this extraordinary agreement, spoke together with Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, and the Deputy Minister of Justice of Mozambique Joaquim Verissimo. The meeting was moderated by Andrea Montanari, Director of the main Italian News cast. The room was crowded and attentive, while the speakers examined the core of this "Italian peace". These were not, they said, a result of an agreement between states, but of a synergy between different actors, a Christian community such as Sant'Egidio, the Italian State, and the Mozambican Church.
The greatness and strength of this peace agreement, Alfano said, is that it was achieved it through a long negotiation between protagonists that were "institutional and non-institutional actors" who managed to bring into a dialogue people who had previously known only the language of weapons : on the one hand the anti-government guerrilla of Renamo (Mozambican national resistance), on the other hand the Maputo government led by Frelimo (Liberation Front of Mozambique), that was then a one party rule. Minister Alfano defined it an "Italian brand", which has created a new "model" that can be achieved thanks to the common work of "Countries and pieces of civil society".
Recognizing Sant'Egidio's "moral force" to negotiate peace, the Minister of Foreign Affairs recalled the great commitment of the main actors of those 27 months of negotiations: the former undersecretary of foreign affairs Mario Raffaelli, the founder of Sant'Egidio Andrea Riccardi , the late Archbishop of Beira Don Jaime Goncalves and Monsignor Matteo Zuppi, today Archbishop of Bologna and then a young priest of Sant'Egidio. Peace in Mozambique "has been durable and has led to freedom, development and economic progress."
"Mozambique today lives in peace 25 years after a civil war that made a million dead, thanks to 27 months of negotiations in Rome, conducted by mediators who did not have vested interests, and who were convinced that peace was possible". WIth tenacity, they managed to teach the conflicting parties a "grammar of understanding". This is what the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Andrea Riccardi, who was one of the protagonists of that mediation, said while he outlined the complex phases that brought to the meeting in Rome. They took pace in the center of Sant'Egidio, between delegations of the two parties and progressively established a climate of dialogue. It is that "Italian formula", as UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali then said, that made peace possible. Nobody initially believed it could work.
Riccardi recalled Frelimo's resistance to talking to the "bandidos armados", but also the guarantees that Renamo continually requested and that made them lay down their weapons only at the end of the negotiation.
Quoting Nelson Mandela, he recalled that peace in Mozambique was a hope for all of Africa.
Peace has allowed what was then the poorest country in the world to pass from $ 60 per capita GDP to the current 500 and a to life expectancy - which was 45 years – of 54. The "consolidation" of this peace is a permanent challenge, noted the Deputy Minister of Justice of Mozambique Joaquim Verissimo. He thanked Italy for "always excelling in the support of the Mozambican people" thanking as well the Community of Sant'Egidio. "The results are positive, in spite of some setbacks along the way in recent years. Mozambique has lived twenty years of peace and political stability that has allowed us to have significant political and economic progress."
This was a day of memory, not as a ritual remembrance, but as a time of dialogue that opens up new perspectives of peace in Africa and the world.