Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday pledged that his government will continue "to search for the truth" about the causes of the plane crash that killed the country's first president Samora Machel and 34 others 20 years ago, said reports on Friday.
Guebuza was speaking at Mbuzini in the South African province of Mpumulanga, at the site where Machel's presidential aircraft, a Tupolev 134, smashed into a hillside in the night of Oct. 19, 1986, reported the Mozambique News Agency (AIM).
After laying wreaths at the site of the crash, Guebuza told the crowd at the ceremony that Machel "was assassinated, in cowardly fashion, by the apartheid regime."
The investigations into precisely what happened that night must continue, he said.
Machel was returning from a summit in Zambia, and there were strong indications that the plane was diverted from its correct flight path by a pirate navigational beacon, transmitting on the same frequency as the Maputo airport beacon.
Suspicion fell on the apartheid military, particularly as the then South African defense minister Magnus Malan had menaced Machel by name a few days earlier.
At Machel's last informal briefing with senior journalists on Oct.11, 1986, the then director of AIM, Carlos Cardoso, told the president he feared the apartheid generals intended to kill him.