Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama met at the weekend for the first time since 2015, raising hopes of an end to violence following a disputed election three years ago.
Fighters from the ruling Frelimo and Dhlakama’s Renamo party clashed sporadically since Renamo challenged the results of the 2014 vote, though the fighting takes place mostly in the remote interior, making it difficult to gauge its scale and casualties.
Nyusi and Dhlakama met in the Gorongosa mountain district, where Dhlakama has been in hiding since 2015 with hundreds of fighters.
“The leaders discussed and agreed on the next steps in the peace process, which they hope will be completed by the end of the year,” Nyusi’s office said in a statement.
Competition over natural resources could be exacerbating unrest: Mozambique is on the verge of developing huge offshore gas reserves which could transform one of the world’s poorest countries into a middle-income state.
Members of the current government and Renamo fought on opposing sides in a civil war from 1976 to 1992 that killed an estimated million people.