Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo has extended a ceasefire for two months to allow dialogue with the government of President Filipe Nyusi and to reduce civilian deaths, its leader Afonso Dhlakama said on Tuesday.
The conflict between the ruling Front for Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the opposing Mozambique Resistance Movement (RENAMO) has pushed the country’s civilian population in the crosshairs. In fear for their lives, 12,000 Mozambicans have fled to neighboring Malawi since the mid 2015.
Rights groups estimate dozens of people were killed last year in tit-for-tat attacks between Renamo fighters and government forces. The two fought on opposing sides in a civil war from 1976 to 1992 in which 1 million people are thought to have died.
Talks between the parties nearly stalled as a result of the assassination of a senior official of Renamo last year. Jeremias Pondeca was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a Maputo beach.
He was a member of the Joint Commission set up to find solutions in the standoff between the government and Renamo, and was killed days before the commission was due to resume its work.
Among Renamo’s key requests are demand for six provincial governors and the inclusion of its militia in the army and police. In the run-up to elections in October 2014, Renamo partisans clashed sporadically with troops and police.
Renamo has said it would not take up its parliamentary seats in protest against the southern African country’s election results.
The commission was set up to prepare the ground for a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.